Here’s an update on our efforts to secure continued Federal funding for the National Writing Project. Many of you have already read the piece that follows in early Spring. Our current status with area legislators is found below it.
What’s Going On?
The federal budget for Fiscal Year 2011 proposes to consolidate funding for NWP and five other programs named in a new literacy program called Effective Teaching and Learning: Literacy. This new funding strategy would require states to apply for block grants, much like the Race to the Top Initiative, which could then be used to fund literacy programs in their states.
Pennsylvania would have to choose to compete for these funds, win them, and then decide to give us some of this money out of all of the programs that petition Harrisburg with the same request. Not only are we taking our chances that all three of these would occur, but also just as importantly, direct funding for the National Writing Project would be eliminated under this proposal.
What this means at our site besides the loss of stipends for Summer Institutes and mini-grants to pursue research with individual school districts is the loss of the source of so many of our programs and work: reading and writing across the content areas courtesy of the National Reading Initiative; writing retreats based on NWP ‘s model; discussions fueled by the ELL Network; Visualizing Words and Worlds and Literacy in Bloom both inspired by work done at other sites; support for Write Out Loud and other technology initiatives among many others. It also means that we will have to work that much harder to convince districts and other grant giving organizations to put their trust in us as we no longer will have the federal government’s stamp of approval.
What can I do?
Given this budget request, we are asking you to make calls to your representatives in Congress as soon as possible to request support for NWP. Please know that no one can make the case for the National Writing Project like you.
What should I say?
Make clear that you are both a constituent and a classroom teacher, administrator, etc. They’ll ask for your name and address. That’s standard procedure. Request their support for continued direct funding of the National Writing Project. Don’t worry about arguing policy with staffers on the phone. They are far too busy for that. They’ll just take your information down and promise to pass it along. You’ll probably end up speaking to voicemail any way. If you get a real person, tell them about the impact NWP has made on your teaching, on your students. Better yet – write an email telling your story and urging your Congressman to continue supporting direct appropriations for NWP. Phone numbers and email addresses for the appropriate staffers are listed below. Then let us know who you contacted and what response you got if any.
I’m swamped. Can’t somebody else do this?
No. Volume speaks volumes. We need all hands on deck if we are to save NWP. Call or write now!
What’s the Latest?
Congressman Sestak and Senator Casey signed Dear Colleague letters, urging other members of Congress to support direct funding of the National Writing Project. Congresmen Gerlach, Murphy, Pitts and Senator Specter all said they support NWP, but have not publicly endorsed us this year.
There is still time to contact these legislators to urge them to do so before our funding comes up for a final vote. Please help.
NWP TESTIFIES ON 2011 BUDGET AT CONGRESSIONAL HEARING —
On May 12, NWP Executive Director Sharon J. Washington and Northern Virginia Writing Project teacher-consultant and Co-director Mary Tedrow presented testimony about the importance of continued federal funding for NWP before the House Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies of the House Appropriations Committee.
NWP NEEDS LETTERS OF SUPPORT —
NWP is providing a sample letter of support so that you can give it to your superintendents, principals, university presidents, and other interested individuals to write to their senators and representatives in Congress to ask them to support NWP. Email questions to email@example.com.