I sent slightly different versions of this letter to my legislators this afternoon. (I didn’t ask my senators to sign on to a House letter, for example. Nothing substantive.) If you support the , I hope you have done, or will do, the same. I would have written sooner – but this all happened as I was getting acquainted with Quinn. This is one of the first times I’ve been able to put fingers to keys in order to compose more than a few tweets. (Again – the iPhone is NOT the right long form writing device.)
Speaking of tweets, I should talk a bit about my latest gentle request for information from @EDPressSec, the official Twitter account for the U.S. Department of Education’s Press Office. It’s now been more than a week since I started asking why the ED had decided to eliminate the National Writing Project’s funding. I still don’t have an answer. As Zac has accurately pointed out, the press office stated in their 2011 press release on the appropriations proposal that programs removed were done so either because they “duplicate local or state programs or have not had a significant measurable impact.”
I don’t get it, and I have requested that @EDPressSec provide me with the data that they used to make the determination that a national network could be duplicated at the local or state level, or that the NWP has had no “significant measurable impact.” I’m hopeful that they’ll provide me with that information. Soon. But, if not, I’m asking my legislators to help me get that data. Seems like the right question to be asking. Thanks to those of you who are asking it along with me. The question should be easy enough to answer, and my fingers are crossed that this is certainly some big misunderstanding.
(If you’d like to see the entire conversation between myself and @EDPressSec, I’ve created a Twitter account and favorited the exchange. Start at the bottom and read up. I’ll keep updating as the conversation continues. I hope it’ll be productive. I really do respect that the press office is on Twitter, and I hope they work to create more opportunities for teachers and policymakers to actively be in meaningful conversation.)
Dear Rep. Markey, Sen. Bennet, and Sen. Udall:
I have grave concerns regarding the proposed elimination of the National Writing Project’s federal funding from the current Education Appropriation Bill. I cannot tell you of a program that I believe is more essential to good teaching, learning and thinking in our schools today.
In light of that opening, I am writing today to seek your assistance with two items:
- I would like for you to show your support for the National Writing Project by signing on to Rep. George Miller’s Dear Colleague letter of support for 2011 funding for the NWP.
- I have asked the press office, via Twitter, of the Education Department for information regarding why they removed funding for the National Writing Project from their appropriations request. I need your assistance in obtaining that information, as they don’t seem able to provide it to me. I was hoping your office might help me navigate the issue.
I work as an instructional technologist for the St. Vrain Valley School District. Prior to my transition to providing professional development to teachers in a district support role, I was a classroom language arts teacher for five years with the same school district. I am certain that I have experienced no better model of professional development than that of the National Writing Project. Since I first learned of and participated in a local project at , my students have benefited from my exposure to the NWP, as have the hundreds of thousands of teachers and millions of students similarly impacted by their programs.
Writing remains essential to student and societal success. The National Writing Project, through its network of local affiliates spread out across the country, makes a substantial difference for students everyday. We would be foolish not to support them.
(My colleague, Zac Chase of Philadelphia, PA, has written a brief letter explaining some of the data regarding NWP’s success. You can view that here.)
In Colorado, three NWP-affiliated local writing project sites work to promote the same ideals of teachers teaching teachers. Each of those programs would be in jeopardy if not for the support of the national network and their matching funds.
I do hope that you will consider signing on to the “Dear Colleague” letter.
I would be happy to speak further with you about the National Writing Project. I’d also love the opportunity to invite you and/or your staff to a NWP or CSUWP event in the near future. There’s always room for more writers. We’d love to see you.
I look forward to discussing navigating the Department of Education’s decision process soon.
St. Vrain Valley School District
Colorado State University Writing Project