David Protess, director of the Medill Innocence Project and professor of Journalism at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, has been named winner of the 2010 NCTE/SLATE National Intellectual Freedom Award.
Protess, who says his biggest reward "is to see students experience empowerment," is the co-author of Gone in the Night: The Dowaliby Family's Encounter with Murder and the Law and A Promise of Justice: The 18-Year Fight to Save Four Innocent Men. Since 1996, his investigative reporting and the work of his students at the Medill Innocence Project have resulted in evidence that freed five innocent prisoners from Death Row, one of whom had come within two days of execution. Protess was nominated for this award by the Illinois Association of Teachers of English.
Honorable mention awards for 2010 will be given to Nebraska Senator Ken Haar (nominated by the Nebraska English Language Arts Council) and Karyn Storts-Brinks, a librarian at Fulton High School, Tennessee (nominated by the NCTE Standing Committee Against Censorship).
The National Intellectual Freedom Award is given by NCTE and a joint committee of members from the NCTE Standing Committee Against Censorship and the SLATE (Support for the Learning and Teaching of English) Steering Committee. The award will be presented during the NCTE Annual Convention on Thursday, November 18, during the Annual Convention in Orlando.
Affiliates of NCTE are also encouraged to recognize individuals or groups close to home for their support of intellectual freedom. The following Affiliate Intellectual Freedom Awards will be presented during the NCTE Annual Convention in Orlando during the Affiliate Breakfast on Sunday, November 21.
Kym Sheehan nominated by the Florida Council of Teachers of English
A curriculum and instruction specialist for English, reading, and ELL, Charlotte County Schools, Port Charlotte, Florida, Kym represented the rights of teachers to teach seven classic books that were being threatened in her district and supported the students' rights to read as well as the teachers' rights to teach.
Jazmond Goss nominated by the Nebraska English Language Arts Council
A student at the University of Nebraska, Jazmond has "devoted many volunteer hours to promote a state bill before the legislature concerning academic freedom, citing her own experience with administrative censorship of her high school's newspaper as a reason for needed changes in state law to protect student voices."
Kenneth Winter nominated by the Michigan Council of Teachers of English
A veteran journalist and adjunct faculty member at North Central Michigan College, Kenneth shares his expertise in journalism and passion for the First Amendment rights of all writers with teachers and students across the state of Michigan.
Ruby Clayton nominated by the Indiana Council of Teachers of English
An active member of the Indiana affiliate, Ruby earlier this year spoke out on best practice for teaching to her district's board of education in Indianapolis and endured harassment and reprimands as a result. But Ruby is a "staunch supporter of the teacher's knowledge and training in making decisions that most benefit students" and is an "inspiration to those teachers around her who need a model of conviction and courage."
Karen Ballash nominated by the Ohio Council of Teachers of English Language Arts
A journalism and American literature teacher at Lakewood High School in Lakewood, Ohio, Karen "values journalistic integrity and the freedom to read controversial literature in her classroom -- a value for which she has changed jobs until she found a school board willing to support those freedoms."
Silas House nominated by the Kentucky Council of Teachers of English
An award-winning novelist, Silas is recognized for his "many instances of environmental activism concerning mountain-top removal. His outspoken practice brought focused attention on the issue in Appalachia." He is coauthor of Something's Rising, a nonfiction, social protest work.
David Protess, the 2010 National Intellectual Freedom Award winner will also receive an award from the Illinois Association of Teachers of English.