Ray Palasz shares his #blog4nwp post with the Coöp.
We certainly face tough economic times despite the fact that unemployment is starting to slowly fall and fewer people are collecting benefits. Our national government faces billions of dollars of debt that needs to be reconciled. Once such way to do this is to eliminate earmarks. For those who don’t know, earmarks is a line of legislation that directs already budgeted money to a specific purpose.
Earmarks have gotten a bad rap lately because of questionable projects. One thing that our lawmakers must consider when spending money is how will it benefit the American people. If they were to make earmark decisions based on this, earmarks would not suffer such negative press.
There is one earmark that defies the trend. It is called the National Writing Project. This group, founded in the 1970’s, has the goal of taking the best teachers in the country and make them better by empowering them with the latest research and strategies in writing. Over the years thousands of teachers have gone through the projects hundreds of sites’ summer institutes, advanced institutes, and other special programs to keep teachers up to date about the latest in writing research. In turn, MILLIONS of schoolchildren, K-16 (that means college too!) have benefitted in all content areas from these wonderful teachers.
However, the NWP has always been funded as an earmark of the Educational and Secondary Education Act. Now that there is bipartisan support has cut all earmarks, unless new legislation is passed to continue funding the National Writing Project, hundreds of summer institutes will be forced to make severe cuts, which would reduce the number of teachers and ultimately students it can serve.
I am a proud Writing Project Teacher-Consultant and Technology Liaison for the Northwest Indiana Writing Project. Every year as we plan for our summer institute, I get excited about the fact that not only will I get to share my knowledge with a new group of eager teachers, but I will learn from them as they conduct research and share their best practices with the rest of the group. I fear what may happen if we are unable to continue this amazing experience for the teachers of Northwest Indiana.
The Northwest Indiana Writing Project was also the focus of a doctoral dissertation which showed that the methods teachers learned actually improved students’ writing skills (http://www.amazon.com/Northwest-Indiana-Writing-Invitational-Institute/dp/1460901053/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1299542735&sr=1-3). And other studies have shown that Writing Project methods work: http://www.nwp.org/cs/public/print/doc/results.csp. Unlike other programs and projects that have received earmark funding, this one has improved the educational experiences of America’s children. And at a time when educators are being criticized, why take away a program that WORKS?
Please get out and contact the Department of Education and tell it to support a proven program!
Please write directly to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Undersecretary of Education Martha Kanter, and Deputy Secretary Tony Miller. These three are the most likely to influence funding for the NWP. Here is the address you should mail your letters to (email addresses were not available on their website; plus actual written letters make them take the time to open and read rather than “deleting” an email):
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20202
If you want to focus limited tax dollars on improving America, this is one program that you should support!