Some thoughts on SB 286
Guest blogger Rosa Castro Feinberg, retired Florida International associate professor and chairwoman of the LULAC Florida Education Advisory Committee, writes her views as the Legislature considers a bill to reduce ESOL training for reading teachers:
"Senate Bill 0286 would harm English language learners by eliminating the requirement that Reading teachers earn the 300 hour endorsement in ESOL when they are assigned English language learners. Instead, the bill would slash the requirement to a mere 60 hours of training. The truthfulness of this statement is not a function of my motivation, my income, or its sources.
Had I earned millions from the sale of my products or services to school districts, it would be in keeping with the country's tradition of private enterprise that honors the profit motive. Witness the appointment of the CEO of Academica Corporation, a for-profit charter management company, as chair of Florida's Charter School Review Panel. Evidently the state of Florida finds nothing improper about offering policy advice in an area where you also make money.
Nevertheless, supporters of this bill have alleged that there is something sinister afoot when experts in the fields of second language learning and policy development publish their research and serve as consultants. Their carping fails to take into account the duties of higher education faculty.
Faculty members have three areas of responsibility: teaching, service to their institution, the profession, and the community; and research and publications. Faculty members must document their activities in these three areas, are evaluated in these three areas, and receive recognition and awards on the basis of their accomplishments in these three areas. Academics who don't publish risk loss of employment. State law (Florida's School Community Professional Development Act) specifically directs public postsecondary educational institutions to work collaboratively with school districts to establish a coordinated system of professional development. Of course we publish, and of course, we consult. We're supposed to.
In my own case, I have not earned so much as one cent from school districts in consulting fees or from the sale of materials for ESOL in-service training. I have never published a textbook for K-12 students. My articles don't generate royalties as that is not the practice among peer reviewed journals. My most recent royalty generating book is a reference book and is freely available in public and college libraries. Many of my publications are available, at no cost, at libraries and through internet sources.
I began phased retirement in 1996. I don't receive a salary from any source. I am not paid for my advocacy activities from any source.
I return to the issue. Senate Bill 0286 would harm English language learners by eliminating the requirement that Reading teachers earn the 300 hour endorsement in ESOL when they are assigned English language learners. Instead, the bill would slash the requirement to a mere 60 hours of training. Those who would dispute that statement must first address it. Those who cannot, and choose instead to go on witch hunts while cravenly cloaked in anonymity only help to make the case presented so effectively by parents, teachers, and community groups that Governor Crist vetoed this same bill last session.