Category Archives: National Writing Project
Two weeks later it appears the webcast was a ploy. I have tried several times to view the event without success. I have received ten emails, one for each work day since the event, asking me to volunteer on behalf of the Obama PAC. From my view this was a naked attempted to increase contact roles at the expense of open debate about education and policy. In addition, the webpage failed to stream video to my classroom on the day of the event. Below is a copy of my original post, written the night before.
Tomorrow, Arne Duncan will be participating in a webcast on the Obama Campaign webpage. I am a little apprehensive as the purpose and audience may be confusing. If this is in response to the Health Care/Pell Grants Bill, than why is it not being operated via the Sec of Education office. Additionally, it appears that you are allowed to submit questions electronically via the aforementioned website. Some questions about who are selecting the questions and why this format, should be applied here as well. If this is to be a formal response than the chain of responsibility and the flow of information seemed to be highly politicized.
This all being said, I still submitted a question, see below: I plan to watch, with my students, tomorrow during class.
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I am disappointed and alarmed regarding the proposed elimination of the National Writing Project’s federal funding from the current Education Appropriation Bill. This program, by far, leads the way in constructive, not vogue, academic growth at a grassroots level. Every year over 100,000 teachers are involved in more than 3 million hours of training, planning, and academic successes.
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 Rep. George Miller’s Dear Colleague letter of support for 2011 funding for the NWP.
- I have asked the press office, via digital means, of the Education Department, for information and statistical data in relation to their decisions in the bill.
Writing has become a cornerstone of teaching technique over the past years as a direct result of my experiences with NWP/EKUWP. These treasured have given me the tools and opportunities to advance that teaching pedagogy. As a result of my teaching and research, I was awarded a small group grant to work in Nebraska with rural minded teachers developing technology based writing methods. This, in turn, led to the beginnings of a newly generated database of Teaching Lesson Plans for statewide use in Kentucky. Our plan was so different from current digital resources , NWP officials selected our program for presentation at national conference on Writing atWestern Michigan University. The result is that I now collaborate with over a dozen teachers nationwide on developing the database in hopes that this could become a national database for teachers in-and-out of the NWP network. Without NWP, this resource and these conversations about writing could quickly disappear.
What makes NWP different is that great teachers receive training to become great leaders and given time throughout their career to encourage teachers to develop new and better resources. Every year in Kentucky an estimated 200 teachers participate in NWP activities, more than any other statewide program. That means 200 schools are directly rewarded with more than 30 hours of professional development that can be funneled into new writing policies, programs, and activities.
I do hope that you will consider signing on to the “Dear Colleague” letter.
Censorship, alive and well and thriving in Kentucky? Yes, and Risha Mullins, a teacher in Montgomery County, Kentucky can well attest to it. Sally Martin, Director of the Eastern Kentucky University Writing Project, has taken up her cause along with prominent writers like Laurie Halse Anderson whose work, Twisted, (along with Chris Crutcher’s Deadline) have been removed from the classrooms. Read what Martin says:
Many of you know Risha Mullins, who was a 2008 participant in the Holocaust Education Network (HEN) Institute in NYC with Sondra Perl. She presented at the KWPN Fall conference describing the work she’s done in her classroom this past year, using the holocaust to raise issues of social justice in her classroom to expand her students’ thinking. Ironically, at the same time she is being heralded by the HEN for her work, she is having young adult literature books–initially one of the holocaust readings she used, then Chris Crutcher’s Deadline, Laurie Halse Anderson’s Twisted–removed from her classroom. Even though these books were there as books of choice, only, and the school’s Review Committee approved them, the superintendent overruled their decision, on all but the holocaust novel, and held the books back. Additional actions by school officials have Risha very concerned for her job.
Risha sponsors an after-school bookclub that has numbered over 100 members who raise their own money to buy books and have travelled with Risha to the University of West Virginia for a workshop with Nikki Giovanni and to Washington, DC to tour the Holocaust Museum with a survivor and board members of the HEN. Just this weekend, Risha learned that she achieved National Board Certification. She has written her own young adult novel set in modern times in a holocaust context that is being read by Penguin, as well. She is an excellent and inspiring teacher.
At the ALAN breakfast this morning at NCTE, Laurie Halse Anderson recognized Risha in front of the 600 in attendance as the key example of the seriousness of censorship. Risha is recieving much support in this challenge from HEN and other parties outside of Kentucky, but I would like to have her home, KWPN, support her across the state, as well. According to Risha, a reporter from the Lexington Herald Leader has written a story on the heated conflict in Montgomery County which is going to be published very soon. If you will, please notify your TC’s and request that they act on Risha’s behalf. I suggest that we send letters to the paper in response to the story–when it is published–either by mail or on the website. Another approach would be simply to email Risha with your support. Risha.Mullins@montgomery.kyschools.us
Here is the link to the school board’s page with email addresses that you can use to show support for Mullins.
Here is the link to the superintendent in question: Daniel Freeman, email@example.com
The county newspaper is the Mt. Sterling Advocate whose editor is Jamie Vinson-Sturgill,859-498-2222, firstname.lastname@example.org. Here is their letter to editor submission page.
Below you can see Mullins on the left with author Laurie Halse Anderson. Spread the word. Use the information above and make a difference today.
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