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State Advocacy Goals
Proclamation from an elected official in Support of Language Education
This proclamation can be requested from any elected official at the federal, state or local level. This proclamation can be used to further advocacy efforts, to build awareness, and can be posted on your organization’s website. ACTFL will soon post sample wording on the ACTFL website under Advocacy Resources for a proclamation for the Lead with Languages campaign.
Arrange for a meeting with State Legislative or Congressional representatives
An important part of advocacy is building relationships with your elected officials as well as their staff members. Setting up a meeting is not difficult and can pay off big dividends. It’s important that your elected officials see your organization as the “go to” entity when they have questions about language issues. Meetings need to take place on a periodic basis for updates, to continue to build relationships and to make sure you are aware of any staff changes. This will also facilitate being able to get your elected officials out to visit programs and institutions for the all- important “photo op.” Elected officials need to be familiar with your programs so they can support them when necessary.
Advocate for a state supervisor for languages
Having someone in the state department of education to support languages is critical to making progress in your state. There are step-by-step instructions for how to go about lobbying for a state supervisor on the ACTFL website under Advocacy/Resources.
Lobby state legislature/board to support National Board Certification with stipends or licensure renewal
Currently National Board Certification is open to teachers of French and Spanish in grades 7-12. Beginning in 2015, the certifications will open up to more language teachers incrementally until most of the languages taught in PK-12 are covered. It is important that National Board Certified teachers receive recognition and rewards for their accomplishment as an accomplished teacher. States and local districts can be lobbied to provide stipends and/or other rewards, such as not needing to recertify.
Encourage statewide promotion of early language learning
While funding for early language programs may not be available statewide, encouraging districts to implement early language programs can have impact. A directive from the state department of education or the Governor’s office, can promote early language programs with your state organizations offering to help with the implementation.
Develop PK-16 agreements to establish policies for secondary to postsecondary transition
Several states have been successful in promoting policies for a smooth transition from secondary to postsecondary education. These can involve agreeing statewide on placement/credit policies for AP and IB scores, establishing a proficiency level for admission to state universities, developing a feedback mechanism for students to communicate admissions and placement issues to your organization, and other articulation efforts.
Develop a Teacher of the Year Program
Every state organization should have a Teacher of the Year Program, not only to have your state recognized in the program at the regional and possibly national level, but also to use the teacher with that title to accomplish your advocacy goals in the state. Meetings and photos with the Governor, State Education Superintendent, and Congressional Representatives are easy to schedule when the elected official knows that this is a teacher of excellence. These meetings can be used to promote whatever advocacy goals you are working on.
Work to educate candidates running for office regarding the importance of language education
While education associations cannot lobby for specific candidates, it is permissible to find out where the candidates stand on certain issues. It is also important that your organization educate candidates running for office about language education issues. Step-by-step instructions for this are located on the ACTFL website under Advocacy/Resources.
Work to legislate a high school language graduation requirement
Only approximately 16 states have a language requirement for graduation from high school. Many states have more than one high school diploma so one may require languages and the other may not. Also, some states have substitution possibilities for a language requirement. Working to legislate a high school requirement is challenging but if you have developed relationships with your state officials, this will be easier because you will know who your “champions” are.
Develop a biliteracy seal program for the high school diploma
A biliteracy seal on a high school diploma is visible evidence to students, parents, administrators, college admissions officials, and employers of the importance of learning languages. At least five states have already enacted legislation to support this effort and approximately 10 additional states are working toward a biliteracy seal. For more information about how to advocate for this initiative in your state, visit the ACTFL website under Advocacy/Resources.