Monday, April 2, 2012

Believe it or not, there's hope in Washington!

I've just returned from the National Writing Project's Spring Meeting in Washington, DC. This year's meeting, as to be expected, was considerably smaller. Many sites were not even able to spend the money to travel to DC. I was lucky to be there to represent the RIWP, and I feel that, in my meetings with our Congressional delegates, I did my best to amplify your voices and convictions as Writing Project teachers. What I do know is that all of my audiences listened...intently. Everyone is interested in and invested in literacy and in writing, as well as in teacher professional development. We are lucky here in Rhode Island as we have people representing us who DO, in fact, understand that teachers need constant "updating" and renewal in the form of quality, local, context-based professional development.

So, I'm happy to let you all know that there is hope in Washington, despite what you might think when you turn on the television or read any news from Capitol Hill. There are folks there who listen and who "get it," and they are doing what they can--which, sometimes, isn't much--to show their support for our work.

I was there to specifically ask them to sign a Dear Colleague letter, expressing support for increased funding from Title II/professional development funds to support national networks and programs, like the National Writing Project, so these organizations can continue to work with teachers in local schools, across their network, to support teacher growth and development. Three of our four representatives from Rhode Island agreed to sign the letter; this is fantastic news, and it bodes well for the National Writing Project's 2013-2014 budget. Just as we were able to competitively win the $11.3 million from the Department of Ed this year, so might we be able to compete for even more funding next year. This, of course, means that the Rhode Island Writing Project can then compete for funding. We are currently at work on a SEED grant made possible by last year's lobbying efforts in Washington. It is amazing to see the fruits of our labors in this way.

Thank you for your continued support of the Rhode Island Writing Project. I urge you to visit our read about our Summer programming. Our Summer Institute is one of the best deals in local, professional development for teachers, now in its 27th year. Our Writers' Camp for kids, which also has a rich history on the campus of RIC, is promising to be bigger and better than ever. In addition, we are busy at work on developing our Common Core workshops for teachers, planning our Spring Conference for next year, and doing what we can to ensure that we are still around next year, the year after that, and the year after that.

Happy Poetry Month! Remember that April 26th is Poem in your Pocket day!