This morning I was up early and out; in my car at 7am, charging up the NYS Thruway to support Hudson Valley Writing Project teachers as they presented their revised workshops for our monthly Saturday Seminar. I know them all. I’ve been facilitating Summer Institutes for the past 9 summers, collaborating with the other directors and returning fellows.
This morning I stayed away from the great bagel and coffee spread by focusing my energy on my ongoing project of documenting our site for our upcoming 10 year anniversary and there’s a kernel of an idea now floating around my head for a film about our upcoming fight to stay alive now that the National Writing Project’s very existence is in jeopardy.
Soon we will be finalizing our trip to DC for the annual NWP Spring Conference where we lobby our local congressmen and state senators to keep signing onto the National Writing Project’s bipartisan bill that has kept the organization alive for over 30 years.
Last year was my first DC experience and I am remembering what it was like to be in Washington last April, when the Obama administration was filled with fresh hope and high expectations and the end of the Bush years was still being celebrated.
In Barack Obama’s first federal budget the NWP was given the respect it deserved as a line item and supported with an increase of financial support and we were feeling great. Obama’s face was everywhere and the city itself seemed to be glowing and breathing easier.
That was last year.
This year, as we plan for our congressional meetings, we are not smiling. Not smiling about Arne Duncan and his focus on testing and charter schools and his new efforts to merge the NWP funds into his budget for states to compete for, thereby ending the national collaboration of our 200+ sites.
What is the NWP without the N?
I wore my Obama t-shirt today. It was the only warm t-shirt I had with me and it found its way into my suitcase turned inside out. I wonder, will I be able to wear it again with pride and commitment?
The lists in this photo announce the rich offerings at our site, Saturday conferences that showcase our study groups in technology, content area studies, early literacy and diversity. They are composed of passionate teachers ready to share their work and ideas and energy on a Saturday morning, after school, anytime they are called together. Are they paid for it? Not really. We can usually offer professional development credits if their districts agree, but most would be there without any compensation. I wonder, would our teachers’ jobs be on the chopping block if their school scores were low?
So, how seriously has our administration read the recent work of Diane Ravitch as she has dramatically U-turned?
We can fire teachers, we can’t fire poverty!
I am hoping that the NWP prevails and I can wear my O tees again with pride.