NCTE Statement of Solidarity
NWe see teachers. We honor teachers. We respect teachers. We recognize the full humanity of teachers and affirm their unwavering commitment to students, families, and communities. In fact, we are fully aware that every single day, teachers are engaging in important, necessary, and hard work, often under hostile conditions and within dehumanizing environments that increasingly question their commitments, their expertise, and their teaching.
Yet we know that teachers continue to cultivate, support, and care for students inside of schools and beyond. Teachers continue to listen to and collaborate alongside students with heart, love, and compassion. Teachers know that to do otherwise is to neither teach nor nurture the brilliance, beauty, and bravery of students as full human beings. Teachers see the promise and potential in students when, at times and unfortunately, others might not readily do so.
In fact, teachers are well aware that we are all living, existing, and working in uncertain times. Teachers know the devastating impact that COVID-19 and ongoing racial violence have had and continue to have on the social, emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual well-being of themselves, of students, and of us all. Teachers know that children and young adults are watching us, asking what we will do, hoping that we will continue to not only see them, but also protect, care for, cultivate, love, and learn with them.
For as much as the responsibilities of teachers have increased and, in most cases, have become overwhelmingly difficult, teachers still show up. Teachers still embrace the joys of teaching and learning. Teachers are still hopeful and hope-filled, even when, at times, their efforts are not rightfully recognized by others.
We want teachers to know that the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) sees you. NCTE values your work. NCTE honors you every single day.
NCTE also knows that teachers, in the words of James Baldwin in his 1963 talk to teachers,[i] realize “the paradox of education is precisely this—that as one begins to become conscious one begins to examine the society in which he is being educated.” And this is not easy work to do, but it is necessary if we are committed to responsibly living, learning, and teaching in a world of justice, fairness, kindness, and freedom.
At NCTE, we, too, are working hard to bring inspiration and support to teachers and, by extension, to students and to our larger community each and every day. Our Intellectual Freedom Center is but one example of our commitment to teachers and teaching. NCTE also recognizes the many hard-fought censorship cases that teachers have endured and continue to experience. We have learned with and from teachers, and we know that their battles are our battles, too.
Another example is the ever-increasing impact of our 2021 Annual Convention, “Equity, Justice, and Antiracist Teaching.” From sessions on justice teaching to keynotes by published writers, the conference motivated NCTE members-teachers to hold discussions on banned and challenged books. We are forever indebted to teachers for their bravery and brilliance.
Hence, we will always support teachers, as demonstrated by our commitment to provide our members with relevant professional learning experiences and timely advocacy support.
There is no other way to say it: NCTE loves, honors, respects, and cares for and about teachers. We are, indeed, inspired by teachers and we commit to being in community with teachers, always. Teachers give us hope and transform lives. Teachers lead us and their students to better futures.
To use the words of June Jordan from her 1973 speech on the value of Black language, delivered to the Maryland Department of Education, teachers understand that we can “not divorce ourselves from our experience” and we can “not deny the history of our life as a people. Nor will we permit the definition of our future to take place in the terms of and the language of those who do not love us, who have never loved us.”
NCTE lovingly and courageously respects teachers and the teaching profession, today and always. Join us as we honor, respect, and advocate on behalf of teachers and students.
[i] Baldwin, J. (1963). A talk to teachers, originally presented as “The Negro child—his self-image” in The Saturday Review. Reprinted in The Price of the Ticket, Collected Non-Fiction 1948-1985 by St. Martins (1985).
[ii] Jordan, June. (1973). Black English: The politics of language. https://archive.org/details/ERIC_ED092123/page/n45/mode/2up?view=theater
– NCTE President Valerie Kinloch and NCTE Executive Director Emily Kirkpatrick with support of the NCTE Presidential Team and NCTE Executive Committee and with endorsements from the following national, state, and regional groups that are part of the National Council of Teachers of English:
WCTE Update December 2019
Highlights of this issue:
- Formation of Wisconsin Action Groups
- WCTE Election Results
- Letter from the President
- WCTE Fall Convention Report
- CEL, NCTE Convention Reports
- CEL Talks Podcast
- How to Get Involved in WCTE
- Diversity Resources
- DPI English News, including Dyslexia report and ELA Standards Revision
- Twitter Chat Schedule
- Minnesota Council of Teachers of English Spring Conference Invitation
- Poetry Resources
- Teacher Travel
- Book Love Foundation
- What We’re Reading
- Calendar of Events
- For Class: To Kill a Mockingbird: Monroeville Walking Tour
- For Teachers: Board Members Share Favorite Resources
Fall 2019 Update
- Convention information
- Changes to WCTE By-Laws
- New Teacher Action Groups
- DPI Report
- Poetry Out Loud
- Diversity Report
- Twitter Chat Schedule
- Wisconsin English Journal
- WCTE in the News
- Books We’re Reading
- Wise Learn Platform
Spring 2019 WCTE Update
Delve into the Spring 2019 Update to take advantage of all the great resources and information:
- Fall convention announcements
- Time to submit award nominations
- Diversity report asks for assistance
- DPI Update on WI ELA standards
- Twitter Chat schedule
- Wisconsin English Journal news
- Meet Amanda Sweet, District #5 director
- National Poetry Month resources
- First Amendment contest for your students
- Books: What we’re reading
- For Class: Ways to talk about books in class
- Top Ten online resources for English teachers
WCTE Update December 2018
WCTE Update December 2018 is chockful of information about the upcoming convention, outstanding members who are winning awards, news affecting English teachers in Wisconsin, and plenty of ideas for your classroom. Check out the following:
- WCTE hires executive director
- Election results
- NCTE Affiliate Award and Chisholm Award
- Twitter Chat schedule
- Wisconsin English Journal news
- Meet the treasurer: Tom Scott
- Interview with Wisconsin author of A Dreadful Fairy Book
- GEEO travel for teachers
- Student Poetry Contest
- What we’re reading
- For class: Book club with a purpose
Download here: WCTE Update December 2018
WCTE Update: September 2018 issue
This issue is chockful of information about the upcoming convention, outstanding members who are winning awards, news affecting English teachers in Wisconsin, and plenty of ideas for your classroom. Check out the following:
- Twitter Chats
- Meet District #2 director, Sarah Rowse-Borelli
- The Great American Read: voting and TV episode about the books
- Contest, Scholarships and Curriculum–all about First Amendment Freedoms
- Books: Recommendations from Board members
- Books: Well-crafted plans for using Choice Reading with your students
Download here: September 2018 WCTE Update
Contest, Scholarships and Free Curriculum
FOR YOUR STUDENTS, from the Anti-Defamation League.
Our First Amendment Freedoms Art & Essay Contest for Grades 6 – 11
For over 200 years, the First Amendment has been the cornerstone of freedom in the United States. Commonly referred to as the “five freedoms,” the First Amendment has helped people in the U.S. exercise their rights to work for a more free and just society and impacts every aspect of our lives.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is now accepting submissions for the 2018 “Our First Amendment Freedoms Art & Essay Contest.” Students grades 6 – 11 Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota can apply by Sept. 28, 2018. First Place winners in each grade category will receive college scholarships for $5,000. Second Place winners will receive $1,000.
As a part of the contest, teachers are invited to use ADL’s completely free curriculum guides on the First Amendment! A recent poll found nearly 75% of students took the First Amendment and its protections for granted. Help teach the next generation the importance of the First Amendment freedoms!
LEARN MORE AND GET STARTED HERE.
Did you know…
- The classroom teacher with the most entries will be invited to the awards dinner and will receive $1,000. The school with the most entries will receive an Anti-Defamation League A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE® Institute educational workshop.
- All art entries will be eligible for submission to local festivals thanks to Amdur Productions. The winning students will be invited to present their work at the 2018 Freedom Award Dinner in Chicago.
- Scholarships provided by a generous anonymous donor, the Harold R. Burnstein Future Leaders Merit Award Endowment Fund, and the Kathleen Hart Solovy Scholarship Endowment Fund.
Dear Wisconsin Teachers,
We know it’s sometimes harder for students in states outside Illinois to get to our dinner in Chicago (where the awards are presented), but that does not disqualify them. They are absolutely welcome to enter the contest and teachers should most definitely utilize our free curriculum, lesson plans and other resources. Contact me with any questions.
Stephanie L. Seweryn
Assistant Director of Development
Position statement opposing UW-Stevens Point’s proposal to eliminate 13 humanities majors
The Wisconsin Council of Teachers of English strongly believes the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point is making a very short-sighted decision in proposing to eliminate thirteen humanities majors, including English. Not only do we believe it will negatively impact current and future students interested in the humanities, but we also believe it will significantly diminish the quality of education for every student earning any type of degree from UW-Stevens Point. By weakening this vital area of the university which currently provides nearly 200 English and more than 600 total humanities majors with skills that are necessary in all career paths, you are choosing to remove those majors that have been the cornerstone of educated society for more than 2,000 years. WCTE sees this proposal, should it come to fruition, as having dire near and long-term consequences. If the proposed plan is approved, you are choosing to limit the potential and possibilities for the students and working people of central Wisconsin and quite literally taking away the ability to major in what makes us most human. We believe this is a mistake with far-reaching, unintended consequences. The mission of our organization is to “strengthen the teaching of English Language Arts,” and we believe the quality of the course offerings for students majoring in other fields of study, those seeking minors in English, and future English teachers will suffer due to the elimination of the major. The English Education program at UWSP has consistently provided the surrounding communities and our state with high-quality English Language Arts teachers, but the strength of that program comes from the strength of the overall English department. If the major is eliminated, the inevitable loss of course offerings and staff would negatively impact the preparedness of the future English educators, not to mention the critical humanities experience of students seeking other majors.
English majors do not simply write creatively and read novels, but rather are given the skills necessary to communicate effectively, argue intelligently, read all types of interdisciplinary texts analytically with advanced comprehension, and even more importantly, graduate with strong moral values and empathy for other citizens of our world. English majors seek to understand themselves and others through studying of the humanities. It is through reading about the experiences of others that we strengthen our social awareness. Literature is what helps make and define us as part of the human race. Reflecting on the classics and contemporary stories challenges our assumptions, hones our thoughts and defines our beliefs. The study of literature, as well as history and art, allow for such opportunities while simultaneously arming students with skills that are valuable in the workforce. We recognize the importance of preparing future generations of poets, artists, and historians; why would the university want to take away the opportunities for their students to become intellectual leaders? This kind of thinking has led to some of the problems we are currently having in our society – creating communities who only believe in the importance of science and math mistakenly puts all of the emphasis on aspects of life which can be quantified. In a world which only places value in the quantifiable, we lose the parts of academia which foster free thinking and creativity. Additionally, completing the required elements of an English major demonstrates to all future employers that your students have mastered a rigorous curriculum focusing on communication, critical thinking, analysis, argument, and multi-modal writing. Since these skills are needed in all careers paths, the potential cuts to your English major will no doubt water down the quality of the education received at your university by eliminating the content experts who currently strengthen the reputation and worth of a degree from UW- Stevens Point.
When it comes to eliminating humanities in general, we must consider the world in which all of our students will be expected to perform. As quickly as our world is changing, we cannot fathom what jobs and careers might be necessary to prepare our students for since some currently do not exist – it is our job to prepare students for all potential career paths as they move forward in a world that changes as quickly as we write this letter. A major in the humanities has the flexibility to prepare students for careers of the present and careers of the future. While we support high standards and instructional practices which promote college and career readiness, we maintain that education should also provide students with the skills to think critically and creatively, as well as the opportunity to become morally responsive to our ever-changing and increasingly-diverse world.
The proposed changes at UWSP follow the trend of simplifying the purpose of education to be exclusively workforce development. If our four-year institutions do not teach the humanities, where will students experience them? Surely a university is a logical place for students to study the impact of art on society, explore the tenants of different religions, begin to understand the complexity of music, and master world languages – helping to create well-rounded students is not only our job as educators, but a responsibility that should be taken with the utmost seriousness.
The underpinnings of universities lie in the opportunity for men and women to gather, to read, to engage in intellectual discussions of ideas, and practice what it means to be positive citizens. A university education is much more than training for a career. Humanities majors offer opportunities for students to grow and promote the development of new thoughts and ideas needed in the complex world which is waiting for the next generation of leaders. We understand this decision is being made as a cost-saving measure in an age of funding instability. But it is fundamentally incorrect to say the humanities are simply a drain of university finances with little to no value in the academic world.
Finally, please do not underestimate the impact of humanities’ majors on the Stevens Point community. The elimination of the humanities would hurt the cultural heart of the city’s artists, poets, readers, and writers. The weakening of these programs will no doubt be a devastating loss to the intellectual identity of the local community with long-reaching impacts on the creative abilities of your students moving forward. Losing the humanities would certainly limit students opportunities, and quite possibly, keep them from choosing UW-Stevens Point.
We ask that you reconsider eliminating majors in the humanities – please consider all other budgetary options before making these unprecedented cuts which will no doubt have an ever-lasting impact on your university, your community, and our state educational system.
John D. Schad Kelly Seefeldt Lynn Frick
President Vice President Professional Issues Chair
Resolution in opposition to Gov. Walker’s plan to strip Wisconsin public workers of their collective bargaining rights
The Wisconsin Council of Teachers of English strongly opposes Governor Walker’s plan to strip Wisconsin public workers of their collective bargaining rights. Here’s why:
- There has not been enough time for the legislature to make an informed decision.
The Governor is trying to rush this legislation through without an honest debate about the effects it will have on the state. In face-to-face meetings with school district delegates, Republican legislators admitted that they have not had time to read the bill and repeatedly expressed surprise at consequences of the bill that they had not foreseen. WCTE demands that more time be taken to fully understand the implications of the Governor’s proposal before a vote is taken.
- WCTE believes that decisions of this magnitude must derive from negotiation and open debate.
Unions and public workers have repeatedly informed the Governor that they are willing to negotiate necessary adjustments to wages and benefits to meet economic demands if the Governor is willing to remove all references to collective bargaining from his proposal. Despite public workers’ willingness to compromise, the Governor continues to refuse. Until he abandons this unreasonable stance, WCTE has no choice but to condemn his actions and oppose any vote on his proposal until all references to collective bargaining are removed.
- The quality of education in Wisconsin will suffer if the Governor’s proposal passes.
Teachers will have no voice in developing important policies such as class size, teaching load, professional development, planning time, extracurricular duties, and more; this will reduce the effectiveness of instruction because school districts will be unable to resist the temptation to use the removal of bargaining rights to cut costs in these and other areas. The Governor’s proposal also risks driving the most talented, dedicated, and experienced teachers from the profession or from the state.
Students, however, will suffer most. For example, five states currently prohibit collective bargaining for educators: South Carolina, Georgia, Texas, North Carolina, and Virginia. According to 2009 data, students in these states achieve significantly lower SAT and ACT scores than Wisconsin students do.
Since removing collective bargaining rights from public workers offers no economic gains to offset these losses in educational quality, WCTE has no choice but to oppose any vote on the Governor’s proposal until all references to collective bargaining are removed.
- School districts and administrators across the state have joined in their employees’ opposition to the Governor’s proposal.
The Wisconsin Association of School Boards, along with local municipalities and school districts across the state, has recognized the dangers of the Governor’s proposal and has issued statements to condemn it. WCTE recognizes that if these groups are willing to keep collective bargaining rights for their employees, there is no need for the radical changes the Governor proposes. Therefore WCTE strongly opposes any vote on the Governor’s proposal until all references to collective bargaining are removed.
- WCTE believes that public workers are not our enemies. They are our neighbors, our police, our firefighters and teachers; they are the people that plow our roads and clean our public buildings. WCTE demands that, in keeping with the venerable progressive traditions of our state, public workers be allowed to retain the bargaining rights that have sustained their professions for decades.
February 21, 2011