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TESOL Member Resolution on Adult Education (1996)

Whereas TESOL represents the interests and concerns of nonnative English-speaking adults in the United States; and

Whereas the US needs to develop and maintain an informed citizenry and a high-quality workforce prepared to meet the demands of a world economy in the 21st Century; and

Whereas adult learners have diverse educational needs, including literacy, basic skills, vocational training, and rigorous preparation for higher education; and, these needs are met in a variety of educational programs and settings, such as GED and ABE programs, community colleges and ESOL centers, and

Whereas educated adults, committed to and participating in a program of life-long learning, serve as the best role models and take an active role in their children's education, and

Whereas educational services to adult learners are best provided by trained professionals who are themselves participants in on-going education addressing new developments in their field, and

Whereas adult learners are most successful in stable, continuously operating programs which have sufficient resources available to create an effective learning environment, and

Whereas state education agencies have the experience and the specialized knowledge necessary to facilitate the operation and continuing development of programs for adult learners in their states, and can ensure quality and equity in providing educational services to adult learners, and

Whereas current funding falls short of meeting the demand for adult educational opportunities, evidenced by long waiting lists, lotteries for English language class placement, and the numbers of students who give up because of lack of access to services, and

Whereas current legislation before Congress (H.R. 1617, the Careers Act, and S. 143, the Workforce Development Act) includes some provisions which support adult education, but fails to ensure quality and equity for nonnative-English-speaking adults, and

Whereas legislation reflecting a genuine commitment to adult learners, including nonnative-English speakers would:

  • Mandate a separate authorization for adult education/literacy
  • Expressly and explicitly include English as a second language in the definition and purposes of adult education and in the categories of instruction permissible under this authorization;
  • Require states to maintain their current levels of funding, in addition to federal funds;
  • Require adult education representative on local and regional Workforce Development Boards;
  • Designate state educational agencies to administer funding for adult education/literacy;
  • Ensure direct and equitable access to funds by all adult education providers;
  • Specifically authorize national and state literacy resource centers to provide training and technical assistance;
  • Reserve an allotment of each state's education funding for professional development and technical assistance;
  • Measure performance through indicators not limited to employability, and which specifically include mastery of the English language and literacy;

Therefore Be it Resolved that the membership of TESOL recommend that the Board of Directors continue an active advocacy position for nonnative-English-speaking adults by maintaining contact with local, state, and federal legislators and policy makers concerned with all legislation affecting adult learners; and

Be it Resolved that the membership of TESOL recommend that the Board of Directors endorse legislation and policy which demonstrate a genuine commitment to quality adult education for all learners; and

Be it Further Resolved that the membership of TESOL recommend that the Board of Directors endorse provisions in all such legislation which provide adequate funding for adult education; and

Be it Finally Resolved that the membership of TESOL recommend that the Board of Directors actively advocate for full appropriation of all authorized funds.

1996 TESOL Convention
Chicago, Illinois USA

Note: This member resolution was voted upon during the annual business meeting of the association in 1996. Resolutions passed at the annual business meetings of the membership are not official policy of the association. The resolutions need a vote of approval by the Board of Directors.