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Susan Notes:

I have been very critical of The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) for its failure to oppose the Common Core Standards, and so I want to report some good news. On Nov. 19, 2010, a remarkable thing happened at the 99th annual NCTE convention in Orlando. A motion was brought to the assembled house by Stephen Krashen, Carol Mikoda, Susan Ohanian, and Joanne Yatvin.


Sense of the House Motion
November 19, 2010
The NCTE expresses disapproval of the concept of national standards to be applied to all students and of the specifics of those written by the National Governor's Association.
NCTE will alert its members to the dangers of expending major efforts on standards and tests, which make meaningful teaching impossible.



Such motions are limited to 50 words. NCTE members vote at such gathering by waving an orange card. So there's no place to hide This motion provoked heated debate and passed by a considerable margin.

Some members pointed out that such a motion means nothing. The Executive Committee is not compelled to do anything. But NCTE prides itself on operating on Knowledge-based governance:


The NCTE Executive Committee follows the principles of knowledge-based governance, a decision-making model that encourages careful study of relevant information and full dialogue and deliberation about the consequences of action before policy is established. When contemplating an issue, we ask:


  • What do we know about how this issue may effect our members and stakeholders?

  • What do we know about how trends--educational, demographic, economic, or cultural--are changing this issue?

  • What do we know about NCTE's capacity to act, alone or in alliance with others, on this issue?

  • What are the ethical dimensions of our choices?

  • --from the NCTE website


    So now the NCTE Executive Committee needs to hear from its concerned membership. Consider drafting a message to them in terms of a knowledge-based concern. If you recently quit because of their failure to act for the needs of children and teachers, tell them you'll reconsider if they show some professional gumption here.

    Please note: For its 100th convention, NCTE will return to Chicago, where it was born in 1911 to fight for teacher autonomy and appropriate curricula. The date is November 17-20, 2011, and the convention theme is "Reading the Past, Writing the Future." NCTE vice-president Keith Gilyard is calling for program proposals. The deadline for online proposals is Jan. 19, 2011. (You need to be an NCTE member to use this form.)

    The surface mail deadline is Jan. 12, 2011: NCTE 2011 Convention Program, 1111 W. Kenyon Rd., Urbana, IL 61801-1096.
    Faxed proposals are not accepted.

    Help NCTE find the way to work for change.

    — Susan Ohanian



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