Laura Schiller contributes this #blog4nwp post.
In middle age, I discovered the National Writing Project and subsequently found my voice as an educator and a passion for learning that continues decades later. But I did not grow in isolation. My three daughters watched their mother publish, complete National Board Certification, teach teachers across the country, and work toward a doctorate in education. NWP changed us all, strong women, focused learners, intent on contributing to the world in ways that would leave it a better place when we were gone.
My journey into a deeply thoughtful teaching life came with a sense of responsibility to others. NWP is about teachers teaching teachers. It is a network that reaches into classrooms to support students as writers and teachers as learners. For every teacher consultant, many more teachers are impacted and their teaching improved for the benefit of countless students.
How can an organization that so effectively leverages a pittance of federal support, recognized on both sides of the political aisle for its contribution to literacy, and beloved by the thousands of teachers who gather to study in summer institutes and annual meetings be reduced to an earmark and eliminated without debate, without awareness of all the good that comes from such a small investment?
Perhaps eliminating funding for the National Writing Project is part of a much larger picture, a dwindling middle class, the drumbeat for dismantling public education, the desire to reduce the role of government in the lives of the citizenry and the fractious political discourse that pits citizen against citizen. What has happened to a national broader sense of responsibility to others that so empowered me after my first NWP summer institute? What values has this country adopted that leave millions in poverty while the richest among us have the greatest political sway? At what point will we have gone so far there is no turning back, even when we finally recognize we’ve made a mistake?
I, for one, a conservative, older American, am ready to march. We have lost our way and our vision and I cannot bequeath our country to my grandchildren as it currently exists. Join me.