Sue Books contributes this #blog4nwp post
I am writing to urge Congress to restore funding to the National Writing Project — an outstanding professional development program for teachers with a solid track record of improving writing instruction across the K-12 curriculum. The National Writing Project has been funded since 1991, but now, sadly, has been defunded.
My connection with the National Writing Project is through one of the local affiliates, the Hudson Valley Writing Project at SUNY New Paltz where I am a professor in the Department of Secondary Education. I participated in a Summer Institute organized by the Hudson Valley Project several years ago, and so know first-hand what a valuable program it is.
As someone who studies education day in and day out, I can say that I know of no other program that works so well. As is so often the case when something works well, “why” is not a mystery. The Writing Project is grounded in a deep respect for teachers (a respect that is in tragically short supply these days) and in an unwavering commitment to the belief that all children can learn to write well. The Writing Project supports teachers who support each other in ongoing improvement of writing instruction. While developing the writing skills of students is a first priority, the Writing Project serves many other purposes as well, including engaging teachers in serious, classroom-based reform and building the collegiality and professional networks that are so critical to lasting reform.
The Hudson Valley Writing Project is an essential component of the School of Education at SUNY New Paltz. Through the Writing Project we are able to offer monthly “Saturday seminars” featuring lessons offered by master teachers. Needless to say, this is an invaluable resource for our many teacher-education students. Who could fail to see value in this: master teachers sharing their practice-based wisdom with pre-service teachers eager to learn whatever they can?
All of this is to say, please restore funding for this low-cost, high-value, politically-neutral program. Sacrificing programs like the Writing Project in order to support such priorities as tax cuts for the rich and super-rich is the wrong way to go. That’s not what America has stood for. I pray that such “un-American” madness will end soon and allow us to return to the kind of governing that supports education. Legislators who take this stand surely will earn the respect of the millions of students, parents, and teachers who are counting on them to make the hard – and right – decisions.