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When Words Matter: Drafting the 2016 Educational Policy Platform

Doug at Policy Platform Writing (small)
Doug Hesse, NCTE President

Today, members of NCTE’s Policy and Advocacy Subcommittee of the Executive Committee (composed of elected leadership, NCTE’s Executive Director, and NCTE’s Director of Policy Research and Development) will hammer out the 2016 Education Policy Platform. Yesterday, the Policy and Advocacy Subcommittee gathered on Capitol Hill to listen to experts, Congressional staff, and representatives from the Department of Education discuss various education policy topics. Those topics included the school-to-prison pipeline, equity and diversity, the Higher Education Act (HEA), the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), technology, K–12 state policies, dual enrollment/credit, early education, adjunct faculty, and teacher preparation.

The Policy and Advocacy Subcommittee is composed of the presidential team—which includes both K–12 teachers and higher education faculty and representatives from CCCC, TYCA, and WLU. Every year—fueled by coffee, tea, trail mix, soup, and salad—the subcommittee reviews the notes from their day of listening on the Hill, studies the materials provided to them by the experts and NCTE staff, and discusses all that they’ve learned. Their job is a difficult one: to translate the knowledge they’ve gathered and synthesize it with their own expertise into a concise, forceful statement that will guide NCTE staff and members in their advocacy. For a day and a half, the committee collaborates, negotiates, talks, writes, edits, reviews, deliberates, rewrites, edits, and reviews again. The process continues until the group agrees they have produced a document that will serve the Council and the field throughout the coming year.

The 2014 Education Policy Platform focused on comprehensive literacy, equity, and assessments and included professional learning and financial investments. A review of the 2015 Education Policy Platform reveals NCTE’s continued emphasis on comprehensive literacy, equity, and assessments. The 2016 Education Policy Platform will not only reflect what NCTE values and the current political realities, it will reiterate our vision and hope for change. It will also define key areas where NCTE’s policy and advocacy work can make a real difference in 2016.

NCTE members value each other, their students, and our shared work toward a just society driven by literate action so much that we work outside the classroom to improve the educational system as a whole. As literacy teachers and faculty, we can appreciate the dedication and work the subcommittee members devote to writing the education policy platform and the power of their words to guide our advocacy.