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Leadership and Activism

Don’t let the National Writing Project be a casualty

Rebecca Burdett shares her letter to President Obama and Congress with us as her #blog4nwp post.

Dear President Obama, and Members of the U.S. House and Senate,

I am writing to you today from my first grade classroom in the New Paltz Central School District, in New Paltz, NY. I am taking time today to write to you to let you know of a treasure that is in great danger of being lost: The National Writing Project. It is imperative that you consider restoring funding to this remarkable educational initiative.

I have been a teacher for twenty-seven years. I have worked in pre-Kindergarten through sixth grade classrooms, in both public and private school settings. Over the course of my long career, I have worked with gifted children, English Language Learners, and special needs students of many socioeconomic backgrounds. I can say, without any reservation, that the kind of high quality professional development I have received from the National Writing Project, through my local Hudson Valley Writing Project, has been transformational in my practice. All children within my classrooms have benefited from the well-crafted seminars, institutes, study groups and teacher inquiry workshops that I have attended over the last several years. I have brought the work from these professional development opportunities back to my home school, and have created alliances and staff development for my peers, extending the National Writing Project’s reach to others with my local community.

As I sit with my five and six year old students during Writers’ Workshop, and see them craft work that is rich with descriptive detail and voice, or watch them bring writing naturally within their play in the block area, the dramatic play corner or the puppet theater, I know that they have discovered the joy of writing. I credit the work of the National Writing Project with this, for it is there that I discovered my own voice as a writer, and learned from my peers, in a supportive setting, how to create an environment within my classroom where writing matters.

Now, more than ever before, we need our students to become skilled in communicating their vision of the kind of world they want. There are no shortcuts in the work of learning to write powerfully and persuasively. We have within our hands a proven reform tool for teachers to dramatically improve writing instruction within their classes. Don’t let the National Writing Project be another casualty in the underfunding and undervaluing of public education. Restore its funding, and let the network of educators who have been supported by its work, continue to work alongside you in creating a nation of involved articulate learners.

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