Most of you may know that I work for an amazing organization called the National Writing Project. The NWP is a network of over 200 university-based sites that provide professional development opportunities to local teachers with the goal of improving writing in all of our nations schools. I joined the NWP over 3 years ago, and was drawn to the organization because of it's values - teachers are treated as professionals and experts in their fields of study. Teachers are respected (what a concept!), and writing is something that is a part of our everyday life (and is fun!) From a social work perspective, the organization is a fine example of organic community organizing - NWP began as a group of teachers in Berkeley coming together every summer to talk about what's happening in their classrooms, and to share knowledge. It doesn't get more organic than that.
Times are tough for us right now. We've been cut from the budget that was signed by the President last week. Among us are programs like Reading is Fundamental and Teach for America - we are all considered "earmarks." And, we all know what earmarks mean in the current political scene: Sarah Palin and the bridge to nowhere. Pet projects and "pork." But we're not just an earmark - we're so much more than that!
We're an organization that serves 130,000 educators and 1.4 million students. These educators are the people that I get to work with on a day to day basis - whether that's helping them plan for a professional development event or drinking a beer after a long day of conferences. These are educators that are doing amazing work in the communities in which they live. They are educators who tell me about their students lives, and how their own lives have changed by being a part of a national network of hard-working teachers. Educators that don't spend their summer vacations poolside drinking pina coladas. These are teachers who are facilitating and participating in Summer Institutes - places where a whole new world of personal and professional opportunities await.
Of course I am sad that there is a possibility I may lose my job, but for me that's not the saddest part. For me, I'm sad, frustrated, and angry that these amazing teachers won't be able to pass on the knowledge from the NWP to their own students. I am a product of a NWP educator (my freshman college writing instructor started the Central California Writing Project at UCSC). He was the first person to show me the power of writing. What about the future of our nation's students, who need the NWP?
The only thing we can do now is urge everyone to contact their local reps to try and get us back in the budget. Please, anything you can do will help us tremendously. Click here to find out who represents you in DC.
If you're interested, here's more press:
Congress Chops Funding for High-Profile Education Programs
Famed state writing program on federal chopping block
Two-Week Continuing Resolution Shows No Path Forward on Funding
Statement by Sharon J. Washington, Executive Director of National Writing Project