Monday, April 19, 2010

What will be lost if NWP is lost

The National Writing Project is based on the very simple but unconventional notion that “a teacher of writing should write!” Teachers come together for intensive, 5-week summer institutes on a college campus – attending full-day sessions where they draft their own papers, meet in editorial teams to get feedback for revision, and eventually publish their summer’s work. Teachers also delve into the empirical research of the last 50 years on how people learn to write well. In addition, each NWP participant plans and delivers a professional workshop demonstrating an effective approach to teaching writing. (Carrie Launius on the Imperiled NWP at the St. Louis Globe-Diplomat)

NWP is threatened. Launius explains it in the following:

However, the federal budget for FY 2011 proposes to eliminate direct funding for the National Writing Project. The NWP would be lumped with a variety of other programs under the heading “Effective Teaching and Learning: Literacy.” Each state would apply for block grants, and literacy programs would then compete, state by state, for annual funding.

You might think, “So if this program is so good, what’s wrong with having it compete for its funding?” There are two answers. First, over the years the National Writing Project has developed an outstanding and powerful network with research, teaching resources, and personal assistance that serve ALL the sites. Making 200+ sites compete for funding at the state level would dismantle the national office and its capacity for impacting the way writing is taught across the country.