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Insist on a Vast Verdant Vista

Doug Hesse, NCTE PresidentThe following post was written by NCTE president Doug Hesse. It is an excerpt of the opening remarks he made at CCCC, Houston, April 7, 2016

In November, many of us cheered the demise of No Child Left Behind.  But we’ve perhaps less heeded how mandates like testing have now devolved to the states.

This may be fine in Oregon. It may not be in North Carolina.  Right now guidelines are being written, testing contracts let, professional development planned.  All have crucial implications for American students and teachers, including yours, including you.

For 105 years, NCTE members have been America’s conscience and its imagination for knowing and teaching the arts of language.

Today, at a time when suspicion, greed, and fear threaten to frack America into a small, gray place, NCTE members must do what we’ve always done.  We must insist on a vast verdant vista, one where literacy is a civic good as well as a personal gain, one that prizes creativity as well as productivity, one that sees reading, composing, and teaching not as basic skills truncated for testmakers but as infinite arts capaciously makeable by all.

This is big work.

It takes knowing the needs and prizing the knowledge of teachers and scholars across the whole NCTE membership, pre-K to post-16.

4C’s has been my intellectual home within NCTE since 1979, when Jix Lloyd-Jones signed up a naïve grad student from a farm town in Iowa.  I can say with long perspective but new urgency–I can say as one of you–that your colleagues in grade schools and high schools need your expertise and energy.  And I most assuredly can say that you need theirs. Thank you.

“We must insist on a vast verdant vista, one where literacy is a civic good as well as a personal gain, one that prizes creativity as well as productivity, one that sees reading, composing, and teaching not as basic skills truncated for test-makers but as infinite arts capaciously makeable by all.” - NCTE President, Doug Hesse