MinneTESOL Members Fight for an #ACCESSwaiver

About two months ago, Sam Ouk (Equity and Multilingual Program Coordinator for Faribault Schools and former MinneTESOL president) bravely spoke up for students and the need to postpone or waive ACCESS testing. His passionate, impromptu speech reached thousands of people on social media.

Since that day, MinneTESOL Advocacy and many other advocates around the state have joined together to work for the postponement of the ACCESS window and a federal ACCESS waiver. Almost 800 of us raised our voices through a MinneTESOL survey that showed 98% of MN educators wanted the ACCESS test postponed or waived. The extensive comments were used in crafting MinneTESOL’s letter to the Education Commissioner asking her to take action. We wrote letters, emails, and used social media (#ACCESSwaiver) to get the message out. We enlisted the support of our unions, administrators, and school boards. Education Minnesota joined us in writing to the Commissioner. MNEEP, CAAL, CAIR-MN and other Minnesota organizations joined the efforts. 

The collaboration was successful! Commissioner Ricker, Dep. Commissioner Mueller, and the MDE released guidance on January 8 that extended the testing window an additional month and encouraged districts to delay the start of testing to allow time for a federal waiver decision. We extend a sincere THANK YOU to all of them for hearing us and for using their power to make changes that would allow us more time.

On January 11, almost 200 educators gathered online for a virtual rally to waive ACCESS testing. We heard from educators, parents, administrators, and school board members around the state about why administering ACCESS is the wrong decision this year. Our Minnesota cohort was joined by TESOL affiliates from Colorado, Georgia and New York. It was encouraging to see the TESOL community joining together on behalf of our students and families. You can watch the video here.

As of today, we are continuing to advocate for a federal waiver. There is so much to do and the pandemic has brought to light the severe inequities of our economy, our society, our health care system, and education system. In this time where there is so much change needed, please consider starting here by joining our efforts. Email minnetesoladvocacy@gmail.com to get involved. 

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” ~Margaret Mead

New Year, New Executive Board

Many new faces joined the MinneTESOL Executive Board this year. 

Meet the new Executive Board members

  • First Vice-President: Amy O’Connor Stolpestad currently serves as the Director of The ELM Project at Hamline University and consults with local, regional, state, and higher education institutions. She is a former K-12 ESL teacher and experienced teacher educator. Her research interests include teacher leadership, instructional coaching, teacher identity, and organizational change management. Amy has been involved with MinneTESOL for many years. 
  • Third Vice-President: Amy Young is the EL Specialist for School Support at the Minnesota Department of Education. Previously, she was an EL coordinator, elementary principal, and has taught at New York University and the University of Minnesota where she published on topics including creativity, differentiation, and dual language education.
  • Treasurer: LeeAnne Godfrey has an MA in TESOL and PhD in Second Language Education. She is an ESL Teaching Specialist at the University of Minnesota. She also serves as the faculty liaison and supports instructors and staff in better serving multilingual students across campus.  
  • Regional Officer: Kat Anderson is the sheltered EL and Social Studies teacher at Faribault High School in Southern Minnesota. She also serves as an ELM instructional coach in the same district. Previously, she has taught adult EL at the Faribault Education Center and as a general education summer school teacher for the Faribault Middle School.

The responsibilities of the different Executive Board positions are available in the MinneTESOL Bylaws.

New Interest Section and Standing Committee Leaders will be profiled in the February newsletter.

MinneTESOL Journal Featured Article

Our featured article this month is from 2019 MELEd keynote speaker Luciana C. de Oliveira about the language-based approach to content instruction, which provides a framework for addressing content and language needs of multilingual learners by focusing on six Cs of support for scaffolding. You can read the article Planning and application using a language-based approach to content instruction (LACI) in multilingual classrooms in MinneTESOL Journal’s current issue.

MinneTESOL Journal News 

The MinneTESOL Journal is happy to welcome Suzanne Gilchrist McCurdy as a Senior Editor. Suzanne is a Ph.D. student in the Curriculum and Instruction Department at the University of Minnesota and an ESL teacher educator. (She also served on the MinneTESOL Board as the Member Relations Director from 2013-2017.) Her research interests include ESL teacher education for pronunciation instruction, language teacher cognition, and low-level adult immigrant and refugee ESL learners. Welcome back, Suzanne!

MinneTESOL Journal Call for Papers

Now is your chance to publish an article in the upcoming MinneTESOL Journal, a practitioner academic online journal. See Writing for the MinneTESOL Journal for more information.

Journal submissions are accepted on a rolling basis.

Email the senior editors to learn more about submitting work: journal@minnetesol.org 

Get to know the Executive Board

Each newsletter will profile a different Executive Board or MinneTESOL member.

Name: Leah Kronick 

Position at MinneTESOL:  President

Teaching context:  College (MELP @ UMN)

Why you got into ESL:  Serving the community, interacting with students and colleagues from diverse backgrounds, staying abreast of new technology and evolving social justice initiatives

Current project:   Surviving a global pandemic  

TESOL 2021 to be Held Virtually

The TESOL 2021 International Convention and English Language Expo will be held virtually from March 24-27, 2021. The Early Registration Deadline is February 1. MinneTESOL will sponsor conference attendance from five interest sections and standing committee leaders, who will share their information with their members.

CARLA Summer Institute Registration is Open

The Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA) summer institutes are primarily for elementary through postsecondary language educators and language teacher educators will be held virtually this summer. More information and a schedule for the institutes are available online. 

Did you know?

Past MinneTESOL newsletters can be found on our website, at http://minnetesol.org/minnetesol-newsletters

We want to hear from you

We are always looking for information to share from our members. Please send newsletter submissions to admin@minnetesol.org.