Writing Teachers on Capitol Hill to Promote Literacy: Teachers from More Than 40 States to Urge Legislators to Restore Funding

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Hundreds of teachers from the National Writing Project are in DC tomorrow to urge Congress to restore the program's funding. The recent stopgap spending bill eliminated NWP’s federal funding, as well as other literacy programs'. “The budget bill ... represents a titanic shift in the nation’s decades-long commitment to improving literacy,” said Sharon J. Washington, NWP executive director.

Hundreds of teacher-leaders from the National Writing Project (NWP) are gathering in DC tomorrow to urge Congress to restore funding for the highly successful program. The teachers’ annual trip to Capitol Hill has taken on a whole new level of urgency this year, as the recently enacted stopgap spending bill eliminated all of NWP’s federal funding.

“The budget bill signed by President Obama on March 2 represents a titanic shift in the nation’s decades-long commitment to improving literacy,” said Sharon J. Washington, NWP executive director. “In one fell swoop the federal government defunded our most important and effective writing, reading, and teacher improvement programs. This is bad for the country on so many levels.”

The stopgap spending bill, which cut a total of $6 billion from the FY 2011 budget, eliminated funding for NWP as well as Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Program, Reading Is Fundamental, National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, and Teach for America. These cuts affect NWP’s federal funding beginning October 1, 2011.

“We implore the Congress and Administration to restore funding for these crucial literacy programs,” Washington added. “I’ve talked to teachers across the country who are eager to share their students’ writing and learning successes. They tell me over and over again that NWP is helping them improve their classroom skills. Every day, in every state, these excellent teachers are making a difference.”

NWP is a nationwide network of innovative educators who work together to improve writing and learning in our schools. Writing Project teacher-leaders provide more than 7,000 professional development activities annually to 130,000 educators––educators who, in turn, reach 1.4 million students every year. Numerous national research studies show that the Writing Project works: students of teachers who participate in NWP programs consistently show significant gains in writing achievement.

During their spring meeting in DC, NWP teachers also attend sessions and workshops in which they share their classroom strategies and knowledge about teaching writing—a practice that accounts for much of the project’s success in improving writing instruction and, as a result, student learning.

Kelly Gallagher, a Writing Project teacher-leader and author of Readicide: How Schools Are Killing Reading and What You Can Do About It, will speak to the group on Friday morning, April 1, about strategies they can use to revive the love of reading among their students. Later that day, in a series of roundtable sessions, Writing Project teachers will discuss topics such as supporting the Common Core standards, integrating literacy instruction with STEM, strategies for teaching digital writing, and planning long-term partnerships between Writing Project sites and local schools.

The National Writing Project (NWP) is a nationwide network of educators working together to improve the teaching of writing in the nation's schools and in other settings. NWP provides high-quality professional development programs to teachers in a variety of disciplines and at all levels, from early childhood through university. Through its network of more than 200 university-based sites located in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, NWP develops the leadership, programs, and research needed for teachers to help students become successful writers and learners. For more information about NWP, visit http://www.nwp.org. For updates on NWP funding, visit http://nwpworks.ning.com/ and NWP’s Cause page http://tinyurl.com/64lyu3r.

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Sharline Chiang
National Writing Project
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