Senator Patty Murray (WA) has introduced the LEARN Act along with cosponsors Sherrod Brown (OH) and Al Franken (MN). This legislation--S. 2740, Literacy Education for All, Results for the Nation--is a comprehensive, pre- K--grade 12 bill that features writing and reading and offers alignment from early childhood across all grade levels with support for state literacy plans and money to districts for their self-defined needs.
The Literacy Education for All, Results for the Nation (LEARN) Act, which was recently introduced into the House and Senate, is a comprehensive literacy bill promoting reading and writing across the K-12 levels and in all disciplines. NCTE participated in a coalition of six literacy organizations to write The LEARN Act. The coalition includes the Alliance for Excellent Education, the International Reading Association, the National Association of Elementary School Principals, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the National Middle School Association, and the National Council of Teachers of English.
Listen long enough—and be willing to listen to those with divergent opinions—and you’ll see that NCTE, as I’ve written before, offers each a place and a space in which to come together and share thoughts.
That range of opinions, though, must cohere when NCTE policy is formed. There are two democratic processes that guide Council policy making. Either a majority of the elected Executive Committee members can establish policy, or a resolution that is passed by a majority of members attending the annual business meeting establishes policy. To guide the Council in establishing priorities for changing governmental policy affecting literacy education, the NCTE governmental relations subcommittee creates a legislative platform that is voted on by the Executive Committee. That platform guides the advocacy work of the Council. Some of that advocacy work takes place when members from across the nation gather in Washington DC to visit Congress and discuss issues important to NCTE. And some of that advocacy work takes place when we are asked to contribute to national issues regarding literacy.
Would the LEARN Act as it is today be the legislation that NCTE, working in isolation, would have crafted? No. But an equally important question to ask is if the LEARN Act as you see it today would be the legislation that it is if NCTE had walked away or chosen never to have offered its input. Again, the answer is a resounding no.
This LEARN Act discussion reminds me of the importance of getting involved. What I learned is that it is important, as an educator, to begin to build relationships with the people in Ohio who represent me. In my role as Elementary Section chair a few years ago, I was also part of the Executive Committee. What an amazing group of brilliant people that group is. I was lucky to work with them for a few years. One of the experiences that really stayed with me from my work on the EC was the first time I participated in Advocacy Day. NCTE Advocacy Day is an annual event in D.C. where NCTE members hear about new legislation, learn about NCTE positions, and spend time talking to Congressmen and Senators about issues that are important to NCTE.