Teachers Act Up!

Thoughts on Teaching, Language, and Social Change from Melisa "Misha" Cahnmann-Taylor

Your Help is Urgently Needed to Prevent Cuts to Language Education Funding

Dear Senator/Congressman,

The Foreign Language Assistance Program (FLAP), the only source of federal funding for K-12 foreign language programs, is currently slated to be cut or eliminated in congressional budget proposals.  If the $26 million in funding for this program was not continued, it would directly impact current grantees in states and districts across the country.  Right now we have a vital FLAP grant in Athens Clarke County where all students are exposed to both Spanish and English literacy education–it’s the first such program in our county and one of only 4 unique programs in Georgia that helps put our state on the map for global education–schooling that will help our youth compete in a multilingual world market.

As a June 14 article in the National Review states, the diplomatic and defense communities are desperately in need of citizens able to communicate in a second language.  Former CIA director and current Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta once said, “Language is the window through which we come to know other peoples and cultures. Mastery of a second language allows you to capture the nuances that are essential to true understanding…This is not about learning something that is helpful or simply nice to have…It is vital to our economic interests. It is vital to our diplomacy. It is vital to our national security to use the language of the people that we engage throughout the world.”

As Congress continues the conversation on federal spending, I encourage you to protect funding for this vital federal program.  Thank you very much for your attention to this important issue.

Sincerely,

Dr. Melisa Cahnmann-Taylor

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If you would like to help inform your congressman and senator about the importance of funding for foreign language education–see the ACTFL link here:

 

Dear Language Education Supporter:

FLAP is in trouble. In early August, Congress passed the Budget Control Act, which raised the nation’s debt limit while simultaneously mandating cuts in federal spending. This budget agreement between Congress and the Administration cut $7 billion and could result in significant reductions to education programs. Despite the many benefits of language learning to our nation’s economic growth and security as well as to a student’s ability to excel in school, funding for foreign language programs has come under attack. Already, higher education spending for foreign languages (Title VI) has been cut by $50 million, a 40 percent reduction from the previous year. The Foreign Language Assistance Program (FLAP), the only source of federal funding for K-12 foreign language programs, is slated to be cut or eliminated in congressional budget proposals.

Act now and tell Congress how important language learning is in your community!

3 responses to “Your Help is Urgently Needed to Prevent Cuts to Language Education Funding

  1. Kristina Hanewald September 11, 2011 at 7:13 pm

    Keeping the FLAP grant available is crucial to taking steps in the right direction for Foreign language education in this country: at the elementary school level and in the creation of bilingual programs. Funding for elementary school foreign language programs has been known to be scarce, and removing the FLAP grant as a possibility is only going to support bilingualism in this country.

    Thank you, Misha, for writing this letter. Budget cuts are happening in every department right now in the public schools, but this is an area that truly needs to be saved.

    Like

  2. teachersactup-Melisa Cahnmann-Taylor September 15, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    My exchange with Senator Johnny Isakson

    On Thu, Sep 15, 2011 at 2:39 PM, senator@isakson.senate.gov wrote:

    Dear Ms. Cahnmann:

    Thank you for contacting me regarding the Foreign Language Assistance Program and the FY12 budget. I appreciate your concerns and am glad to have the opportunity to respond.

    I understand your concern regarding funding for K-12 education programs. I will review the funding for this program in the FY12 budget. However, with our national debt skyrocketing past an unprecedented $14 trillion and our deficit spending surging to $1.5 trillion this year, it is urgent that Washington get its fiscal house in order. The American people sent a clear message in November’s election that they will no longer tolerate Washington’s endless spending spree. These spending habits are unsustainable and jeopardize our credit rating and the very financial future of our country.

    For the last three years, Georgia families have faced difficult times, and they have been forced to make difficult decisions during this economic recession. Many have seen a decrease in their income and a decrease in opportunities. I believe we must demand of the federal government what every Georgian has had to ask of themselves: to prioritize their spending and live within their means. It is imperative that we begin addressing these issues now, starting with the discussion of our nation’s FY12 budget. It is important that we share in this sacrifice jointly so that no one program, organization, or individual is unfairly targeted.

    I believe that in addition to passing a constitutional amendment to balance the federal budget, we must also reform our broken appropriations process and reduce wasteful spending. That is why I am also pushing the Biennial Budget Appropriations Act to switch Congress from an annual appropriations process to a two-year cycle, with a requirement that every other year be devoted to scrutinizing federal programs to determine if they should be continued, reduced or eliminated. Senator Jeanne Shaheen, a Democratic senator who has firsthand experience with biennial budgeting from her tenure as governor of New Hampshire, is among those who have joined me in pushing this legislation.

    Not only would biennial budgeting improve the efficiency of the budgeting process, but it would give Congress much-needed time to devote to achieving a balanced budget. Congress has repeatedly failed to pass the 12 annual spending bills on time and frequently has resorted to passing omnibus bills at the last minute. Last year, Congress failed to complete work on a single one of the 12 appropriations bills before adjourning for the year. Clearly, what we are doing now is not working, and we must change the paradigm of how we budget and spend in Washington.

    I have nine grandchildren. The rest of my life is about seeing to it that we leave them a country that is as free, as prosperous and as safe as the country our parents left to us. The challenge of our time is our debt and the deficit. It is time to take bold steps to reverse Washington’s unsustainable course, even if it means sharing in the burden of reduced funding.

    Thank you again for contacting me. Please visit my webpage at http://isakson.senate.gov/ for more information on the issues important to you and to sign up for my e-newsletter.

    Sincerely,
    Johnny Isakson
    United States Senator

    For future correspondence with my office, please visit my web site at http://isakson.senate.gov/contact.cfm. You can also click here to sign up for the eNewsletter

    MY RESPONSE

    Dear Senator,

    I wish that you had mentioned the priority in spending when it comes to spending towards war or spending toward improved global communications to truly enable a safer, better society for your children. Would that you considered their education in the worlds’ languages and cultures a priority rather than dwell in the abstractions of “cutting bureaucracy; cutting government.” When we need government–e.g. to protect our country, to build up infrastructures, to promote democracy and access to roadways, education, police protection, and scientific discovery, are you silent? What balance and leadership might you bring to educate your constituents that government pays your salary, pays for your leadership and care for a range of citizens’ needs. Right now America is in a dire place to lose our long privileged position in global affairs. I think the forced humility is good for us as a country. But what are we prepared to do about it, to bring about change so that our children can be educated to be better than you or I are now; to bring dignity and humility to global conversations about the way we need to work together for a sense of security, scientific discovery, and care with our natural and human resources.

    I think a short answer about cutting the budget overlooks important distinctions regarding priorities and new directions for how our government–our much needed government of which you are a paid member–can operate to better serve us in all the ways that have helped nourish this country’s strengths. I’m tired of hearing about party debates and boycotts–I wish for our state to have leaders who will step up to the table, who will have conversations across differences, to be model communicators. If you are unable to do this it may be because until recently, most Americans have had little access to curriculum deeply connected to language as a tool for dialogue. Please, reconsider a slash orientation to one that is more thoughtful to the particulars of the funding crisis. War is very expensive; peace is worth every penny.

    Your constituent,

    Dr. Melisa Cahnmann-Taylor

    Like

  3. Pingback: The Politics of the Language(s) We Speak (Or Don’t) « Teachers Act Up!

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