FLAVA President’s Message – February 2020

FLAVA President’s Message – February 2020

Hello, FLAVA.

Dick Kuettner here, FLAVA president in his second month, hoping that the year 2020 has seen positive results in all your pursuits. I know for one that the year has been filled with unexpected occurrences which had to be met head on over the past six weeks. Challenges are what give us strength and unity, and make us appreciate successes all the more.

The Executive Board and Advisory Council – your newly selected leadership team – are fearless in their dedication to and love for FLAVA and what the organization represents. The list below is a group of tireless individuals who will be there to serve you and will seek to meet your aspirations over the course of the next two years. Never hesitate communicating with them. Keeping yourself informed is to your benefit.

Executive Board:
President: Dick Kuettner; President Elect: Heidi Trude; Immediate Past President: Sue Robertson;
Communications Coordinator: Stephanie Stockman; Treasurer: Kathryn Murphy-Judy; Conference Coordinator: JoAna Smith

Advisory Council, Standing Committees
Advocacy Committee Chair: Sharon Scinicariello; Communications Committee Chair: Stephanie Stockman; Finance Committee Chair: Kathryn Murphy-Judy; Membership Committee Chair: TBD; Nominations Committee Chair: Linda Fowler-Jones; Recognition and Awards Committee Chair: Amy Petersen; Teacher Education and Professional Development Committee Chair: Eric Jaworski

Advisory Council, Appointed Positions
Historian: Thomas Sones; Mentor Program Chair: Martha Davis; Parliamentarian: Sue Robertson; Webmaster: Angela Gunder; Website Editor: Allison Carneiro da Silva

Advisory Council, Affiliates
Virginia Department of Education: Lisa Harris; Virginia Organization of World Language Supervisors: Jennifer Carson; Community College Representative: Lorenz Chan; American Association of Teachers of French: Marsha Taylor; American Association of Teachers of German: Andrea Machesney; American Association of Teachers of Slavic and Eastern European Languages: TBD; American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese: Debbie Sommer; Classical Association of Virginia: Liane Houghtalin; Chinese Language Teachers Association: Ran Zhao; Mid-Atlantic Association of Teachers of Japanese: Tomoko Hoogenboom and Yoshiko Mori; Virginia Dual Language Educational Network: Beatrix Preusse-Burr; Mid-Atlantic Association of Language Learning Technology: Sharon Scinicariello; National Network for Early Language Learning: TBD

As this is my first communication to you since being passed the gavel, let me bring you up to date on more than just a few items.

FLAVA Spring Conference, World Languages, Key to Success.
The spring conference will take place Saturday, 18 April 2020, on the campus of Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. The small conference registration fee covers a full hot breakfast, lunch to your liking, and a day full of sessions and sharing. Spring conference registration is now open.

FLAVA Fall Conference, Beyond Languages.
The fall conference will take place 08 – 10 October 2020, at the DoubleTree by Hilton convention center, in Williamsburg, Virginia. The conference is in its planning stages and the official call for proposals will be announced in the very near future. So, start thinking about the session or workshop proposal that you will want to submit.

FLAVA is always looking for volunteers to assist in committee work. The need is there as many of the Advisory Council committee chairs are looking for loyal members who wish to serve the organization and its membership. Participating in such a manner enhances your professional growth and provides future opportunities for more leadership within the organization.

Professional Growth.
The Foreign Language Teachers Workshop Series continues to thrive. We now have new leadership in Teacher Education and Professional Development, Eric Jaworski, from Virginia Beach. Under Eric’s leadership, I hope we can expand the number of workshops, the number of host sites, and the number of actual attendees. I have been talking about finding more host sites beyond Virginia by extending invitations to our regional members (SCOLT and NECFL) and believe that we are moving steadily in that direction. Our final interactive Internet workshop, Achieving the World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages through Social Justice Education, slated for 19 March 2020, will be led by Dr. Stephanie M. Knouse, from Furman University where she is the University Supervisor of Foreign Language Education. You can register for the workshop on the FLAVA site.

I trust you are aware of our plight to keep world languages as a much-relished part of the school curriculum. For some reason, some of our state legislators feel it necessary to proclaim world languages equivalent to the subject area of computer science. If you have been following the many informative communications from Sharon Scinicariello, our new chair for Advocacy who resides in Richmond, you have been communicating with both your delegates and your state senators – at least I hope so – to let them know that language matters and that computer technology, and language and culture study are far from being the same yet can indeed complement one another. Two bills have been presented during the present session and neither of the two has yet to go away. So we can truthfully say that this is an ongoing battle. In Sharon’s most recent note to us, she asked that we continue to write, call, post, and tweet our legislators to encourage them to do the right thing. In anticipating the future under Sharon’s direction, we anticipate promoting language even more than we already have. We are looking at the possibility of vehicle plates with a world language theme; State Advocacy Days where we will visit both houses in Richmond, as well as the many district offices; and promotional visits/involvement in local communities around Virginia.

Does JNCL-NCLIS ring a bell? Maybe Language Advocacy Day in DC? How grateful we are for the lobbying group’s support in meeting continual challenges to the profession and in encouraging legislation supporting our mission as world language educators at the federal level. Lots of good comes from our friends there. Each time we have come up against a crisis, the group has extended an influential hand of support.

In the recent Language Advocacy Day, sixteen Virginia educators and language company owners/administrators took to the Hill to share with the Commonwealth’s Representatives and Senators proposed or soon-to-be-proposed pieces of legislation in support of the language program, the language educator, and the language student. I am listing below the top Legislative Priorities for the February 2020 Language Advocacy Day to let you know just what is taking place in Washington…on your behalf. Individuals and groups were encouraged to talk specifically of these top priorities and encourage their legislators to offer full support. Information below was taken from the JNCL-NCLIS Language Advocacy Day 2020 program of events.

1) JOIN THE NEWLY CREATED, BIPARTISAN CAUCUS : THE AMERICA’S LANGUAGES CAUCUS. The America’s Languages Caucus Co-Chairs, Reps. David Price (D-NC) and Don Young (R-AK), established this Caucus in Nov. 2019 to ensure adequate resources are directed towards the study of world language learning, Native American languages, and English for English learners. JNCL-NCLIS request that your office support the Caucus by joining.

2) FUND THE INAUGURAL YEAR OF THE WORLD LANGUAGE ADVANCEMENT AND READINESS GRANT PROGRAM. 3-year grants program through the Department of Defense; For School Districts w/ JROTCs and/or schools affiliated with the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA); 75% for languages critical to national security; 25% for any natural human language; Priority for programs with: STEM, Distance Learning Underrepresented populations, Evidence-based program models. The World Language Advancement and Readiness Grant Program, authorized via the FY20 NDAA, establishes, improves, or expands world language programs in Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) schools and in local education agencies (LEAs) that host a Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) program to bolster our national and economic security. We request that this program is funded at $15m in the Defense budget for FY2021.

3 ) CO-SPONSOR THE WORLD LANGUAGE TEACHER STUDENT DEBT REDUCTION ACT * * Senate Ask: Please consider introducing a similar or identical bill in the Senate. House Ask: Please co-sponsor the World Language Teacher Student Debt Reduction Act. This bill extends equity in student loan forgiveness for World Language Teachers, amending Title IV of the Higher Education Act, sponsored by Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA). It would increase Pell Grant Loan Forgiveness amount from $5,000 to $17,500, the same amount that teachers of other subject areas experience national shortages (Math, Science, Special Education).

4) CO-SPONSOR THE BILITERACY EDUCATION SEAL AND TEACHING ACT ( THE BEST ACT ) Senate Ask: Please co-sponsor the BEST Act in the Senate (introduced by Sen. Brian Schatz, D-HI)** House Ask: Please co-sponsor HR 3 1 1 9 (introduced by Rep, Julia Brownley, D-CA-26)

I have a challenge for you. I think that it is time that we let our legislators at the state level know what is taking place in the form of major initiatives in support of language and culture learning at the federal level. Maybe in doing so, our state legislators would not feel the need to undermine language and culture study, thereby selling our students short.

Get out your computer and send a message to your legislators; use pen and paper to write them a short note; or tweet and post to your heart’s content, proclaiming the value of language study in a literate world. If you feel so inclined, how about writing an op-ed for your local or regional newspaper. Those whom we have elected need to hear from us all the time, not just in times of desperation. Set fifteen minutes aside weekly to let your legislators know your views and thank them for their support.

I guess you have gathered by now that Advocacy is, and should well be, one of my and FLAVA’s greatest initiatives. But let’s add to that Professional Growth in teacher preparedness and Membership growth and sustainability. As an organization, we will be best served with a strong and informed membership that appreciates the profession we have all chosen.


Dick Kuettner
President, Foreign Language Association of Virginia

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