Becoming a part of the National Writing Project is the best move I ever made as a teacher. If I talk about the Writing Project with you, I probably sound like I’m gushing. You might wonder what is the big deal? What is this project anyways?
I became involved with the Writing Project the same way that thousands of other teachers around the country do — by participating in a Summer Institute. I received course credit through Northern Michigan University — but, trust me, it was no ordinary class. The Writing Project profoundly affected who I was as a new teacher. After ten years it continues to shape my teaching on a daily basis.
After the 2001 Summer Institute, I returned with Amy, and Gwinn teachers Brian Rice and Suzanne Hindman as well as Munising teacher Sue Castiglione to serve as an intern for the 2002 Summer Institute. My involvement that summer gave me additional credits toward my Master’s Degree, and even counted in place of a traditional Master’s thesis.
Sometimes the organization’s name gets misunderstood. For example, after I had participated in the Writing Project for a couple of years and continued to expand my involvement, my husband finally asked, “When does this project ever end?” I laughed because I knew he didn’t quite understand the nature of the Writing Project … I hope I’m involved in this project until I retire!
If you look at the NWP’s website page “Understanding the National Writing Project,” you will find that the NWP is the largest scale and longest standing teacher development program in U.S. history (the link is included below). The NWP is not just another professional development “project” — rather, it is a national infrastructure of over 200 linked sites that span all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The federal investment in the NWP infrastructure produces high quality programs that lead to large scale improvements in the teaching of writing. A discontinuation of federal funding could put the entire infrastructure — built over 30 years — at risk.
Amy and I just returned from the NWP’s Annual Meeting in Orlando. Every year we feel inspired and amazed by the group of talented and dedicated teachers who gather together for this convention. The energy I felt in the room was similar to what I felt at a recent rock concert with my daughters. Instead of being teenagers excited about music, we were teachers excited about writing! This excitement, though, was edged with some concern. The federal funding for the National Writing Project is at risk. In fact, today we received an e-mail from NWP policy associates from the national office in Berkeley, CA, that we need to call our senators immediately. This is an emergency alert! On Monday, November 29, the Senate will vote on an amendment to ban all earmarks for 2011, 2012 and 2013.
This amendment will eliminate funding for the National Writing Project. Senators who traditionally support the NWP are under pressure to vote for this amendment. If you are a teacher, friend, relative, parent or someone who just happened to stumble across this post, please help out. We need you to call your Senator TODAY to tell them to oppose Senator Coburn’s amendment to ban all earmarks because it will defund the National Writing Project. Spread the word on tweets, blogs, Facebook, and other social media. Offices are tallying calls, so it is important to make calls instead of writing letters. Calls must be made today.
Go to http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm to find the phone number of your Senator’s office. If you live in Michigan, here are the numbers: Levin, (202) 224-6221; Stabenow, (202) 224-4822. It only will take a minute of your time, but can make all the difference. Let’s not let this “project” end. Our teachers, our students, and our country need the National Writing Project.