This November, I had the honor to represent the New Jersey Council of Teachers of English at the National Council of Teachers of English Annual Convention in St. Louis. One of my responsibilities was to attend the Annual Business Meeting, and I want to take this opportunity to share with NJCTE members some of what was discussed.
NCTE President Jocelyn Chadwick, who presided over the meeting, informed the group that there will be three new committees focused on major work for the organization. The first will focus on teacher agency: how do we talk to administrators, deans, the community; how do we tell our story? NCTE hopes this committee will create more tools to help teachers communicate more effectively with different stakeholders about the work that we do. The second committee will focus on convention planning, so that we can think about what works well and what can we do better. This committee will work with Executive Director Emily Kirkpatrick to continue improving our annual convention. Finally, the third committee will focus on policy and governance, with an emphasis on state and local needs and the ways in which the national organization can assist affiliates, who in turn can meet the needs of educators in our local communities.
Next, NCTE Executive Director Emily Kirkpatrick reviewed highlights of the year, including the NCTE new vision statement. Kirkpatrick indicated that membership is stabilizing after more than 12 years of decline, but that, while expenses have been reduced, the organization is still relying on financial reserves to balance the budget. Kirkpatrick announced that the Folger Library has signed on as substantial sponsor and financial partner and that the organization intends to forge more connections with publishers to come.
Kirkpatrick also announced the overhaul of The Council Chronicle, which will have an expanded base of writers. The next issue will feature a new piece by Angie Thomas, author of The Hate U Give, who delivered a stirring and challenging keynote address to an audience of more than 400 at NCTE 2017.
Kirkpatrick closed her address with an emphasis on some of the many new initiatives including a new and improved advocacy day, the introduction of lead ambassadors (two members in every section) who have already held local events in five states, a renewed and digitally-focused National Day on Writing – #WhyIWrite, policy engagement, and the new NCTE website.
The next NCTE Annual Convention will be held Nov 15-18 in Houston centered around the theme: Raising student voice starts by raising yours. Convention locations to follow include 2019 – Baltimore; 2020 – Denver; and 2021 – Louisville, KY.
Finally, the Business Meeting concluded with discussion, editing, and final passage of three resolutions. The resolutions are as follows (although please see NCTE for official and final wording):
#1: Resolution on Support of Undocumented Students and Teachers
Resolved, that the National Council of Teachers of English call for the immediate renewal of the Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals program in support of the protection of all undocumented K-20 students and teachers, and endorse their rights to remain in the United States.
Be it further resolved that all students have the right to a high quality education, regardless of immigration status.
#2: Resolution on Professional Learning in the Teaching of Writing
Resolved, that the National Council of Teachers of English recommend ongoing, high quality professional learning in the teaching of writing for all teachers across all disciplines at each grade level, K-20.
Be it further resolved that NCTE actively encourage school districts, colleges, and universities in providing high quality professional learning to give teachers the necessary strategies and curricula to deliver effective writing instruction.
#3 Resolution on Amplifying the Voice of Literacy Leaders
Resolved, that the National Council of Teachers of English advocate for and support literacy teachers who embrace opportunities to amplify their voices and tell their stories.
Be it further resolved that NCTE urge literacy teachers to share their expertise with other education stakeholders and strive to wield more influence in shaping education policy and reform. As teachers and NCTE members we reaffirm an essential principle of our vision statement: “We must more precisely align this expertise to advance access, power, agency, affiliation, and impact for all learners” (NCTE Vision Statement, May 2017).
Written by Audrey Fisch, Board Member, NJCTE, Professor of English, New Jersey City University, Jersey City, NJ
Posted by Audrey Fisch, blog editor for NJCTE
New Jersey Council of Teachers of English, the New Jersey state affiliate of NCTE, the National Council of Teachers of English