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NCTE Affiliate Intellectual Freedom Award

State, Regional, Provincial Affiliates

The purpose of the NCTE Intellectual Freedom Awards is to honor individuals, groups, or institutions that merit recognition for advancing the cause of intellectual freedom. Award categories are (1) a national award and (2) NCTE affiliate-based award.

Each state, regional, and provincial affiliate is urged to establish and implement an Intellectual Freedom Award. The awardees will be cited in the NCTE Intellectual Freedom Award Roster and at the Affiliate Breakfast at the NCTE Annual Convention.

Any state, regional (e.g., multi-state), and provincial affiliate of NCTE can participate by naming an Intellectual Freedom Award winner in accordance with the specifications below and by sending information about their awardee to NCTE by May 1.

One award may be given annually by each state, regional, and provincial affiliate, but affiliates may choose to participate or not in any given year.

All affiliate awardees will receive certificates prepared by NCTE and presented to the participating affiliate or the awardee at the Affiliate Breakfast at each year's NCTE Annual Convention. The affiliate is also urged to honor the awardee at an affiliate event of its choice. A roster of awardees will be published in the breakfast program, Council-Grams, or other appropriate NCTE publications.

The eligibility criteria for the affiliate NCTE Intellectual Freedom Awards are as follows:

  • the awardee has shown courage in advancing the cause of intellectual freedom or fighting censorship;
  • the awardee can be an educator or noneducator;
  • the awardee can be an individual, group, or institution;
  • the awardee's activity can be related to particular recent events (e.g., as in a censorship dispute) or it can be ongoing (e.g., as in leadership demonstrated over a period of years);
  • the same awardee may not be named for two years in succession.

The procedural rules are as follows: (a) the governing body of each participating affiliate will authorize the judging panel and determine the nominating process, with attention to requesting nominations from local or other intrastate affiliates, if any exist within the state affiliate; (b) descriptions of the activities or events that merited the award must be presented by May 1 in two forms: (1) the Intellectual Freedom Award Summary Sheet and (2) concise documentation and/or testimony of not less than one single-spaced page and not more than three double-spaced pages and three pages of attachments; (c) the permission of the potential awardee must be obtained in advance; (d) NCTE will accept without further review all affiliate awards that have met the above criteria and the deadline; however, NCTE reserves the right to request further information if needed to clarify the affiliate's material on its award. Note: Specification (c) acknowledges that many who act in defense of intellectual freedom remain under continued scrutiny and pressure. They sometimes choose to avoid public notice which, however supportive, places them under further duress.


  • A newspaper that supported, in an editorial, a teacher, school, or Board of Education action in defense of a challenged book, film, or educational method
  • The teacher, school, or Board of Education involved in such a defense
  • A department chair, principal, or central office leader who has over a period of time developed and/or supported intellectual freedom policies and practices
  • A public official who took a stand in a difficult intellectual freedom case

Nominations with appropriate documentation must be received at the office of NCTE, or by Linda Walters-Moore by May 1.


2017 NCTE Affiliate Intellectual Freedom Award Winners


Debra Velder
Associate Director, Nebraska School Activities Association, Lincoln, NE
was recognized by the Nebraska English Language Arts Council

Connie Zitlow

Ohio Wesleyan University, Powell, OH
was recognized by the Ohio Council of Teachers of English Language Arts

List of Previous Winners

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