I found myself in a cadre of teachers from across the greater Houston area. Celebrity authors from the filed of writing came and spoke to us and worked with us on our own writing and on designing writing instruction. We spent time each day writing, different modes and forms and genres and (GASP) sharing writing with my critique group. We laughed and cried and came to now one another so much better than we might have if not for the work in which we were engaged. And we came to understand more about how to work with our students. I returned to work at my middle school that fall with confidence that we I could help students find their own voices, write for a real audience, and enjoy success.
I know we all have to make sacrifices in economic down times. However, the budget line for the NWP is not a huge line item. It just seems like an easy target, I guess, to lawmakers whose voices are strident when calling for belt tightening all the while they receive perks from lobbies and corporations and the like. The IMLS and ILTSL funding was also threatened in the first round of cuts. That funding was restored, thankfully, due in large part to a hue and cry from ALA. Would it not be wonderful if IRA and NCTE and the other professional organizations raised such a hue and cry?
I urge all of you to call for restoration of funding for NWP. I know that I would not have found my own voice were it not for my experience with NWP. I would still be writing in that soulless, disconnected, uninteresting voice that was drilled into me in my university classes. Instead, I have a voice: it is strident sometimes and snarky. But it is MINE, original and fresh (I hope). Blog, tweet, post, write, email. Have your voice heard loud and clear. Restore funding to the National Writing Project.