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Writing from the field

  Advocacy: this page leads to information about contacting  government agencies, Rhode Island advocacy work, immigration, legislation, health access / equity, voting, statistics and related advocacy resources; please also see LR/RI's EL/Civics and its dis/abilities pages for more advocacy resources. 

resources for difficult times

Many of us have heard from colleagues, learners, friends, neighbors who are frightened by events following a contentious election. Regardless of political stance or affiliation, there are facts (not alternative ones) that practitioners - particularly those of us working with English language learners /communities- need to know and understand. Below, some resources that provide information about status and rights, as well as teaching materials for practitioners' own knowledge and/or for framing critical and open conversations in classrooms and communities.

ESOL teaching resources to promote anti-racism, diversity, equity and inclusion

For People Working with Immigrant Families including information about public charge and more

60 Resources for Supporting Immigrant and Refugee Communities

Notifica, app designed to communicate difficulties in real time. Alerts are designed to inform family members, legal advocates, and other contacts that the sender may have been detained by the police or Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

How the Trump Administration Is Botching Its Only Trial Run for the 2020 Census The Intercept. Sam Adler-Bell reports on Rhode Island's status as a Census test state and the risks incurred - real or imagined - by the notion of asking for citizenship status on the 2020 Census

Fall, 2017: The Dream Act, DACA, and Other Policies Designed to Protect Dreamers from the American Immigration Council

Nancy Wolanski of Grantmakers Council of RI (GCRI) has shared these slides from a June webinar offered by Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees (GCIR)

with thanks to Amy Greer and the Economic Progress Institute for the resources just below

Charity Care booklet:

CASO - Coalition of Advocates for Student Opportunities, volunteer group of concerned citizens and students promoting and supporting a pathway to higher education for undocumented students in the State of Rhode Island.

EPI's Guide to Assistance:

EPI's Free Clinics outline: brochures: English and Spanish included.
Also have brochures in Portuguese, Russian, and Khmer here:

Federal Guidance on Public Charge:

Rhode Island practitioners: The Rhode Island Department of Education's legal counsel has provided this guidance re: concerns about student data in CALIS being used by immigration officers. CALIS data is protected in the way individuals are; that is, ICE Agents must have a court order, or a warrant with a specific person's name on it in order to request information from program staff or from CALIS.

Programs are advised to tell ICE agents that RIDE must first review any documentation before disclosing student information. RIDE is also asking that Benchmark, the CALIS developer, change the question about Citizenship from a required to an optional answer.

additional Rhode Island resources and here

How does it work? Demystifying democracy tool kit including information on Rhode Island legislative processes, legislative timeline, map of standing committees and hearing rooms, and finding and tracking legislation

House Committee on Judiciary hearing on H 6021, legislation regarding ICE activity at sensitive locations; testimony held on May 2, 2017 begin at 57:57 in the video.

Critical Incident Response Chart - a diagram illustrating the immigration whole system - an attempt to visualize the very real and broad-based effort that is needed, and is in part underway, to respond to the 45 President's Executive Order.

Amy Greer, Ph.D. Project Manager, Research and Data, Community Investment , United Way of Rhode Island

New Americans in Rhode Island; The Political and Economic Power of Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians in the Ocean State. text and downloadable infographics

New American Economy report details the significant economic contributions of refugees in America

P/L/I ACLU: Know your rights

How to Be Prepared for an Immigration Raid

resources below are marked as follows to specify audiences/intended users of the materials listed: P - practitioners; L/I - learners/immigrants

P/L/I CLASP immigration raid resources

L/I Know your rights - from first literacy, Boston

L/I if ICE agents show up at your door

P/L/I Immigrant Defense Project: ICE Raid toolkit

L/I Immigrant Defense Project Know your rights materials

P Know Your Rights National Immigration Law Center

L/I Make the Road New Jersey Erik Jacobson's ESOL Curriculum for expanding access to obtaining drivers licenses

Comprehensive overview of Know Your Rights: presentation video and slides Mar 29 2017, by Ning Jun Yuan, Online Communications Specialist

P/L/I know your rights: raid watch: witness and document

P Immigrant Legal Resource Center information from the American Immigration Council: including (among numerous other resources)


P Facts Matter: Immigration Explained; infographic from Define American


I downloadable pamphlets: know your rights

I Deportation Defense cards for wallets/purses from United We Dream

I additional Know your rights materials:

L/I fight Anti-Muslim discrimination:, and

L/I COMMUNITY ADVISORY Social Media, Criminalization, and Immigration

Multiple languages available here

Making Schools Safe for Immigrant Students and their Families By Lis-Marie Alvarado and Paul-Andre Mondesir, American Friends Service Committee

P/I From US Customs and Border Protection - additional information about sensitive locations

P/I Share My Lesson, a professional-learning site of the American Federation of Teachers, providing a collection of lessons and resources on immigration.

P/I Supporting Students from Immigrant Families - from Teaching Tolerance

P A Primer on Expedited Removal

Immigration Detainers Under the Priority Enforcement Program

P Teaching for Change offers perspectives of those outside the mainstream; they say "Students must learn to think critically about our nation's history and learn the lessons of social movements to make this a more just society. The master narrative of social movements being won by individual heroes and large demonstrations won't serve young people well." While not suggesting that one necessarily adds one view or another, these resources can a) strengthen our understandings of narratives and counter-narratives in the world and b) provide catalysts for critical thinking, problem posing, and discussion. Ours is not to inculcate beliefs but rather to support learning and thinking as it is relevant and interesting/of use to learners.

P/L/I The Change Agent: Immigration (2014)


Libraries Respond: Immigrants, Refugees, and Asylum Seekers from the American Library Association

Libraries serve refugees s is an effort to bring together resources and assets to help libraries serve refugees.

P The Politics of Adult Education Art Ellison on advocacy: how and why, more than ever. Additional articles on advocacy and other topics: COABE Spring 2016 Journal;
COABE Winter 2016 Journal, available here

P Don't Get Your Undocumented Friends in Trouble: A How-To

additional resources for action:

P Taking Back the Narrative: How to Talk About Immigrants and Immigration, an archived webinar (February, 2017) from the Immigrant Learning Center

P Immigration Data on Demand





P rights cards and more

Action for ESOL Manifesto - UK-based work in aid of articulating and disseminating information about the importance of and need for ESOL

from The Economic Progress Institute:
Cost of Living Calculator: See how much it costs to live in Rhode Island and what you need to earn to meet basic needs:

 Facts and Stats about poverty, income, wages and other indicators of the economic vitality of Rhode Island and its residents:

Policy Agenda, Guide to Assistance, and more.  see for yourself:

Educating the Public and Elected Officials about Adult Education: Report on Adult Education Advocacy Efforts in New England by the New England Literacy Resource Center at World Education

This report takes stock of the program, policy and legislative context for adult education in each of the six New England states.  It discusses local and statewide advocacy strategies by adult educators.  The findings show that adult education advocacy efforts in New England are multi-faceted, and growing in sophistication and reach.  The report discusses the principal challenges and related promising strategies revealed through interviews with leading adult education advocates in New England.  They are grouped into four areas:
 1) Visibility;
 2) Framing the Message;
 3) Student Involvement; and 4) Increasing and Sustaining Advocacy Efforts.
 Available for downloading (as a PDF file):

the ACLU resources and clarification re: rights for all

National Literacy Coalition tool kit for advocacy, 2015.

ESOL UK - an educational website for those wanting to develop their English language and learn about citizenship for second language speakers in the United Kingdom.

Street Sights - a forum for advocates, homeless individuals, students, state officials, and the general public to share accurate and honest information about homelessness issues.

Advocacy and Policy Change - The Evaluation Exchange Volume XIII, No. 1, Spring 2007

The Institute for Language and Education Policy
is a newly formed, nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting research-based policies in serving English and heritage language learners. We are teachers, administrators, researchers, professors, students, and others who believe that the time for advocacy is now.  Learn more - 

Communicating with Congress: How Capitol Hill is Coping with the Surge in Citizen Advocacy - steps to take and approaches to avoid in doing advocacy work/undertaking advocacy campaigns.

from David Rosen: National Priorities Project database - locate the federal investment in adult education in your state or county for the last two decades on the  easy-to-search database.  Search by state or county; search by issue: education, basic demographics, income and poverty, health, etc. Within education choose a federally-funded program data set, e.g.  adult education; select the specific location (specific state state or county)  and the years.

Living in Poverty slideshow does the math: what does it take to live at the poverty level.
see also:

Rhode Island

Governor's Task Force on Adult Literacy

RI Policy Council's website had devoted much time and energy to support devoted to the Task Force process, which worked to develop and articulate a system for adult learning in the state.  Building The Critical Links (available as a PDF file), is the August, 2004 report of that work,  including recommendations for next steps for adult learning and teaching.

RI Adult Education Research and Convening Project, 2015 - a revisiting of 2005's Critical Links work and process

Testimony given in support of adult education legislation at the Rhode Island State House: AN ACT RELATING TO ADULT EDUCATION  -  May 1, 2002. 

Hello. My name is Rhonda Hill. When I was sixteen and leftschool I didn't realize how important is was to get an education. I came to Dorcas Place a year and a half ago, to get a better education and learn to read, for a better future for myself. I have been working hard on my reading. When I started here I couldn't read too much. Now I am reading much better, and I'm getting there in math too.

While at Dorcas Place I have also been working in janitorial positions after classes. My dream is to get my own daycare going. This has always been my goal, and it's coming true. I am just about licensed. All I need to do is to complete a CPR class and attend one more meeting. I plan on starting my daycare sometime in May. It will run from 3p.m.-11:30, for infants and toddlers. This will help people who work second shift or who go to classes at night. And it will allow me to continue with my education in the day.

I would like to thank my teachers for all their help with improving my reading. I would also like to thank Career Services for helping me to get my daycare license. If it weren't for Dorcas Place, I would still be stuck where I was years ago. But instead my reading is improving and my dreams are coming true.

Thank you.

Statements from adult learners, presented to members of RI's Congressional delegation on October 15, 2001.

RI Adult Literacy Council - information about the state's former literacy advocacy, policy and adult education support entity.
The George Wiley Center - statewide group actively committed to local community organizing for the purpose of creating social and economic justice through changes in public policy.  2 East Avenue, Pawtucket, Rhode Island 02860 Phone: (401) 728-5555 Fax: (401) 725-1020

government agencies

A large part of LR/RI's work includes advocating for change on many levels so that adult education policy will most strongly support needed resources for adult education learners and practitioners. This advocacy work includes educating ourselves, legislators, private and public sector individuals and organizations as information, legislation and policy constantly shift.

legislation: The State of Rhode Island General Assembly

Contact information: for RI's Washington delegation; for local representatives, and for US legislators across the country.

Congressional Directory -  find members of congress and the senate

find your RI Officials- locate local elected officials by city/town/street

US Department of Education's strategic plans and annual reports - see where adult education fits into the department's larger agenda.

Follow policy-related discussions on the National Literacy Advocacy list - archived here.  Better yet, subscribe to the list and participate in discussions about advocacy and policy with literacy workers from around the country and around the world.

Your Government, Your Taxes, Your Choices: A Curriculum for ABE Studeents - addresses services the state (of Massachusetts) provides, taxes people pay and issues of fairness, and advocacy.  Developed by ABE/ESOL teachers, Diana Satin and Nancy Sheridan, the curriculum is intended primarily for Massachusetts adult basic education learners but it also provides a model for other states. The language in the curriculum is geared for mid-beginning ESOL learners, and it also appropriate for students at higher language levels.  Each lesson also contains ideas for adapting the curriculum for students at beginning and more advanced levels.  Activities are varied.

Influencing public policy - the UK's National Institute of Adult Continuing Educationseeks to represent the interests of the UK's adult learners locally, nationally and internationally. This involves maintaining good working relationships with education providers, broadcasters, the press, government and politicians. Part of the Institute's advocacy work involves responses to documents and papers issued by other organisations, calls for evidence by various committees. commissions and enquiries.

The Center for an Urban Future is a New York City-based think tank that fuses journalistic reporting techniques with traditional policy analysis to produce in-depth reports and workable policy solutions on the critical issues facing our cities. Download and/or order their resources.  While some are geared particularly to New York, they also contain valuable information and strategies around advocacy and lobbying (and distinctions between the two).

Community Partnerships for Adult Learning - "about strengthening ties among businesses, libraries, colleges, national nonprofits, faith-based and community-based organizations, social services and workforce development agencies, federally funded state-run programs, and other providers to improve the accessibility and quality of adult education."

Headlines from around the world - from, and news from One World,net a global portal and network of  over 1,600 human rights and sustainable development organizations worldwide. Important resources for awareness building.

National public policy - including links to updates on the status of federal funding from the Adult Literacy Education wiki.
Participation Trends and Patterns in Adult Education: 1991 to 1999 This report from the National Center for Education Statistics uses data from the 1991, 1995, and 1999 Adult Education Surveys of the National Household Education Surveys Program to examine participation rates in adult education over time. Participation is examined among different groups of adults(by age, sex, race/ethnicity, education level, labor force status, occupation group, and whether the adult has continuing education requirements), and for different types of adult education (adult basic education, ESOL programs, credential programs, apprenticeship programs, work-related courses, and nonwork-related courses).
ProLiteracy advocacy resources


Campaign gives voice to migrants - article in The Guardian describing a UK campaign - utilizing data, information sharing and organizing - to restore funding to ESOL services.

Defending Immigrant Rights - an activist resource kit.

No Human is Illegal: An Educator’s Guide for Addressing Immigration In the Classroom; available  at
HR4437 advocates have sought to introduce legislation that will radically change the legal, social, and economic status of immigrant communities in the US. The debate rages on and we have heard opinions ranging from the conservatives to the democrats to the lef ;and a powerful constituency has emerged stronger than ever before in the 21st century—students. How will educators encourage these acts of critical thinking, civic responsibility, agency, and above all— student leadership in advocating for all human rights? How can educators engage their students in these critical issues in the classroom? How can we serve as the liaison between students andthe mixed messages the media and politicians are sending? This guide is for educators to take on the important issues that teachers and students alike have been tackling in their activism from INSIDE the classroom.  This resource can be best used online as a web resource. – from Sally Lee, Founder, Teachers Unite 646-206-4160,

Also see The Change Agent, March, 2014, IMMIGRATION and Issue 23, September, 2006:  IMMIGRATION: The Current Debate

related advocacy resources

Advocacy and related resources from the Fortune Society

ASCD Action Center - resources for working with policy makers, the press and others from the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Become an effective advocate - links from the Student Coalition for Action in Literacy Education (SCALE)

Bill of Rights Defense Committee - national organization; - Rhode Island Bill of Rights Defense Committee

The Catalyst Centre - Promoting cultures of learning for positive social change; including links to online resources, popular education and other related activity.

The Center for an Urban Future - New York City-based think tank that fusing journalistic reporting techniques with traditional policy analysis to produce in-depth reports and workable policy solutions on the critical issues facing our cities.

Federal protections against national origin discrimination - brochures in numerous languages detailing the federal laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of national origin.
The Grassroots Literacy Coalition is a group of students, teachers and administers who are fighting for the creation of an adult education system that would truly serve all of the people who need adult education in New York City. Our members volunteer their time to plan conferences, conduct workshops, attend rallies and organize people interested in the future of adult education in this country.

Literacy and Lifelong learning: Social justice for all? Chris Sidoti, addresses the ACAL Forum in Sydney, June 15, 2001 and frames access to literacy as a human right.

Office for Civil Rights: Information by Topic: Fact Sheets, Regulations, Hot Topics/Issues, How to File a Complaint
The Police Complaint Center - national non-profit organization that provides assistance to victims of police misconduct..  Many adults, both immigrants and those born in North America, find it difficult to imagine challenging police authority.  This site demonstrates that police abuse can be addressed by ordinary people.

A Policy Maker's Primer on Education Research: How to Understand, Evaluate and Use It - via Donna Martinez and the National Advocacy Listserv.

Popular Education: Adult Education for Social Change [ED411415], ERIC Digest by Sandra Kerka 1997

Poverty, Racism and Literacy - ERIC Digest by Mary Ann Corley 2003

organizing, civic participation (see also EL/Civics)
Civic Participation and Citizenship Collection - links to sites addressing community organizing, media, citizenship education, social studies, voting and related topics.

Instigate: An online toolkit for community mobilization; resources for building alliances within and across communities

Civic Participation and Community Action Sourcebook A Resource for Adult Educators - Published by the New England Literacy Resource Center, Edited by Andy Nash

Activities for integrating civics in Adult English Language Learning from the National Center for ESL Literacy Education (NCLE).

Civics Education for Adult English Language Learners - NCLE digest

Know Your Rights - Plain language explanation of constitutional rights from the National Lawyers Guild


CommonCraft - electing a president 
Nonprofit voter engagement network - voter participation resource - Election information you need

2012 New England Voter Registration and Action (VERA) campaign, a non-partisan effort aimed at adult learners and program staff in the New England states. Its goal is to educate adult learners about voting and the topical electoral issues, and mobilize them to vote in the 2012 elections. VERA is sponsored by the New England Literacy Resource Center (NELRC) at World Education.

Easy Voter Guide - "dedicated to making elections make sense; to the ideal that all people should have access to nonpartisan information about the why, how and what of voting and other forms of civic involvement;"  available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Tagalog and Japanese.

Minigrant project - Bob Geake's  project focusing on adult voting. Read his completed project.

also read Immigrant Students Advocate for Adult Education, from The Change Agent, September, 1996.

Pick Your Candidate - multi-faceted lesson plan that helps students understand campaign advertising and candidate's positions so they can make educated decisions at the polls, written by Debbie Tasker of New Hampshire.

health access / equity international HIV and AIDS charity - resources, information, education

California Health Literacy Initiative, including health advocacy resources

Cultural Competence in Health Care: Is it important for people with chronic conditions? - Issue Brief Number 5, February 2004, Center on an Aging Society

Health Literacy Resources from Calgary Immigrant Women's Association

resources on disparities in minority health  - part of a larger site addressing health care and politics.

LINCS Health and Literacy Special Collection, including access to MEDLINE plus,  a "goldmine of good health information from the world's largest medical library, the National Library of Medicine."  Basic (if not plain) language information, tutorials and interactive features.

Health and Literacy - Practice application brief by Sandra Kerka, 2000

HEALTHri - RI Department of Health Website

Kaiser Family Foundation resources on minority health

National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day - coalition of national organizations funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through the National Minority AIDS Initiative to provide capacity building assistance free of charge to community-based organizations and stakeholders involved in HIV/AIDS prevention.

The National Health Law Program- including links to advocacy resources for health, and national legislative links

The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development - whose mission is "to ensure that every person is born healthy and wanted, that women suffer no harmful effects from the reproductive process, and that all children have the chance to fulfill their potential for a healthy and productive life, free of disease or disability. "

Picture Stories for Adult ESL Health Literacy and NCLE/ ERIC Q and A Health Literacy and Adult English Language Learners

Talking About Pain Lesson Package - created in collaboration with students from the Langara College School of Nursing, and with the support of the BC TEAL Charitable Foundation.

Virginia Adult Education Health Literacy Toolkit - resource to help adult education instructors and administrators better understand the problem of health literacy as it affects learners


Legislation  regarding adult education, submitted  May, 2001


This version of the bill was passed, with the deletion of (9).


Introduced By: Representatives Hetherington, Carpenter, Ajello, Aiken and C. Levesque

Date Introduced : February 2, 1999

Referred To: Committee on Health, Education and Welfare

It is enacted by the General Assembly as follows:

SECTION 1. Section 16-63-2 of the General Laws in Chapter 63-16 entitled "Adult Education" is hereby amended to read as follows.

16-63-2. Legislative findings and policy - (a) The general assembly, in accordance with the constitution of the state, RI Const. Art XII ,1, which obligates the state "to secure to the people the advantages and opportunities of education," and also purusuant to RI Const. Art XII, 4, which requires it to "make all necessary provisions by law for carrying this article into effect," finds:

(1) that all citizens, regardless of age, have the right to education;

(2) that education is a lifelong pursuit;

(3) that basic education and general personal development are necessary to enjoy a wholesome life; and

(4) that vocational training is useful in acquiring a marketable skill and thus achieving economic self-sufficiency.

(b) The general assembly therefore declares:

(1) that the public laws shall address the education needs of adults as well as of young people;

(2) that an integrated and coordinated adult education delivery system shall be provided and maintained on a statewide basis; and

(3) that public funds shall be appropriated to support that delivery system and thereby fulfill the constitutional mandate.

(c) All adult education programs and services provided by any department or agency of the state of Rhode Island, local government, or otherwise funded in whole or in part by state funds, shall be offered in the least restrictive environment, be designed to enhance the quality of life for adult learners, and be consistent with and inclusive of the following values that reflect the preferences and needs of adult learners:

(1) Adult learners shall be treated with dignity and respect.

{ 2) Adult learners shall be included in policy development affecting adult education.

(3) Adult learners shall be offered services that are cost-effective and meet the learners needs. ADD}

( 4) Adult learners shall have access to testing, evaluation and requisite accommodation for learning and/or other disabilities.

( 5) Adult learners shall be fully informed about the educational choices available to them.

( 6) Adult learners shall participate in decisions about their educational process, including information exchange and goal setting.

( 7) Adult learners shall be provided with educational programming commensurate with their abilities, including but not limited to basic skills, vocational education and/or secondary education or its recognized equivalent.

( 8) Adult learners shall receive consistent, sustained quality in their education.

[ deleted from final document: ( 9) Adult learners shall not be denied access ancillary services such as transportation and childcare which are necessary to support their educational programs.]

SECTION 2. This act shall take effect upon passage


In addition to policy information, this page also contains links to government agencies whose work (data gathering and analysis, statistical studies) produces information which may be used to support/hinder state plans and other efforts.

Knowledge is power: Census stats for the US and RI, with thanks to Johan Uvin for sending them along:
Recent US 2000 Census data on English language ability have been released.

The data for Rhode Island are at:

The data for Massachusetts are at:

from David Rosen - links to demographic information: Profiles of the Adult Education Target Population: Information from the 2000 Census, April 2004:
Census Report Section 1 PDF
Census Report Section 2 PDF
Census Report Section 3 PDF

Pennsylvania Association for Adult Continuing Education (PAACE) including advocacy; also search the site for legislative calendars and updates.

RI quickfacts from the US Census Bureau - one of 50 sets of stats available here (state and county quickfacts).

Race Forward: The Center for Racial Justice Innovation(formerly The Applied Research Center) - public policy, educational and research institute whose work emphasizes issues of race and social change

Division of Adult Education and Literacy  Enrollment and Participation in the State-Administered Adult Education Programs
see also DAEL's site map for more links to adult education, evaluation and legislation

The National Reporting System for Adult Education - work underway aimed at measuring and documenting learner outcomes resulting from adult education instruction. What will its outcome mean for state plans and implementation? For more on outcomes, etc. please see

standards, reporting, outcomes, accountability - what's online

National Coalition for Literacy - a coalition of national literacy agencies working to advance adult education, language, and literacy in the U.S. - site deigned to help libraries improve and expand literacy services and programs.
From the Margins to the Mainstream - An action agenda for literacy  - turn of the century initative aimed at supporting adult literacy and moving its importance from, yes, the margins. to the mainstream. - Nolo's mission is to make the legal system work for everyone -- not just lawyers. See also What to do when you're arrested, a downloadable word file.

The Right Question Project - an organization that focuses on developing educational strategies that help people build skills to get involved in issues that affect them. Specifically, RQP programs prepare people to more effectively: advocate for themselves; participate in decision-making processes that affect them and their families, and hold decision-makers and decision-making processes accountable. Based in Massachusetts, the RQP has been involved in a number of regional trainings and workshops dealing with adults' rights.

"Street Law is practical, participatory education about law, democracy and human rights. Through its philosophy and programs, Street Law empowers people to transform democratic ideals into citizen action. Street Law’s programs do not end at the door of the classroom. Each student gains essential lessons that can be used for life."

TESOL Advocacy Resources - TESOL's (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) advocacy resources and documents

US General Accounting Office database - General Accounting Office (GAO) Reports Online via GPO Access - contains all publicly released GAO reports beginning with FY 1995.

page created October 12, 1998 

updated February 7, 2023

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