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Leadership and Activism

#blog4nwp – Recognize our writing needs

Dotty Feldman shares her letter to Congress as a #blog4nwp post on the Coöp.

Dear Congressman Hinchey,

It is said that history repeats itself. In this case I hope that is not true! Prior to 1874, Harvard University reported that more than half of its candidates failed the written entrance exam! When I read that in Because Writing Matters, a publication of the National Writing Project (NWP), I was both appalled at the information and proud of the work of the NWP. However, I fear that the actions of the federal government to rescind funding of the NWP will contribute to the decline of writing proficiency in our country.

My personal experience with the Hudson Valley Writing Project started with my acceptance as a fellow in the 2006 Summer Institute where I worked and studied with a group of dedicated and gifted teachers from a range of grade levels, K through College. At the time I was a K-6 Reading/Writing Specialist for the Newburgh Enlarged City School District, which has 1 pre-K, 10 elementary, 2 middle, and one high school. The elementary school to which I was assigned was Gardnertown Fundamental Magnet School [in Newburgh, NY].

In my position, I was responsible for teaching reading and writing strategies to students in grades 5 & 6. Because of my position as Teacher Consultant with the HVWP, I was able to also provide writing in-service courses for teachers after school and during the summer. The teacher participants were engaged in their own writing, as well as trying lessons in their classrooms and examining their students’ work. This was such a powerful way to improve and extend their teaching. At the end of these courses, the teachers’ responses indicated student success with the classroom strategies that they tried and a strong desire for more staff development sponsored by the HVWP.

Since I’ve retired, I am now in the position to devote additional time to facilitating study groups for teachers who are clamoring for more writing in-service and interaction. It is my fervent wish that the federal government will recognize the writing needs of the teachers and their students and rescind their decision to cancel funding for the NWP and its chapters nationwide.

Dotty Feldman


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