National Council of Teachers of English Logo

Reconstructing English Education for the 21st Century: A Report on the CEE Leadership and Policy Summit

Suzanne Miller
University at Buffalo, State University of New York

Dana L. Fox
Georgia State University

I, too, believe that English education has reached a crucial moment in its history, but that this moment is contingent upon the changing demographics, cultural knowledges, and practices of economic globalization. . . .  We need a broad and thoroughgoing rethinking of the very intellectual field that we are supposed to profess. . . .  [We need to] demand more than canonical and reproductive machinery for the production of lists of outcomes, competencies, and skills, or required textbooks.  But this shift will require some working principles for how we define profession, work, and field.

--Allan Luke  (Research in the Teaching of English, 39 [1], August 2004, pp. 85, 86, 87)

The important cultural and economic forces that Luke (2004) describes above as well as numerous mandates and policies from the political realm have brought us to a "crucial moment" in the history of English education.  To work toward collective action at this significant juncture in our history, the leadership of the Conference on English Education decided to take a close and critical look at our profession so that we might reclaim what is important to us, re-examine how we conceptualize our field, and redefine our goals for teacher preparation and professional development in these new and challenging times.

To take up this task of rethinking issues related to the preparation and continuing professional development of English language arts teachers and teacher educators, the Executive Committee of the Conference on English Education (CEE) of the National Council of Teachers of English held a Leadership and Policy Summit on May 20-22, 2005, at Georgia State University in Atlanta, Georgia.  Over 75 of CEE's present, past, and future leaders came together to elaborate a shared vision for English education by developing a framework of working principles and recommended actions.

An esteemed CEE History Panel opened the Summit by reflecting on the history of the organization and offering insights and suggestions for the future.  Janet Swenson, former CEE Chair, convened the CEE History Panel that consisted of Leila Christenbury, Council Historian, Virginia Commonwealth University; Janet Emig, Emerita, Rutgers University; Edmund Farrell, Emeritus, University of Texas; Ben Nelms, Emeritus, Universities of Florida and Missouri; and Gordon Pradl, New York University.  Kent Williamson, Executive Director of NCTE, spoke at the summit as did a number of NCTE and CEE leaders, including Patricia Lambert Stock, immediate Past President of NCTE. 

The CEE Leadership and Policy Summit was not merely an intellectual retreat but a working meeting consisting of small group sessions for discussion and writing as well as plenary sessions for critical conversations on vital issues and reporting out to whole group.  Collaborating in small thematic inquiry groups, the invited participants from various educational institutions across the United States worked together electronically for two months prior to the Summit and then face-to-face in Atlanta for three days to develop a framework of critical CEE issues and ideas and to begin to develop an action agenda.

Our specific goal was to assemble a collective knowledge base and a series of written products to guide the future efforts of CEE in English teacher preparation and development and to support NCTE in its professional development initiatives and other efforts related to teacher education.  In short, we sought to determine the following:

What consensus values and beliefs can CEE support that serve as a framework for the field of English education, and how can we best communicate these consensus values and beliefs to those within the field and to others (e.g., policymakers, administrators, and community members)?

Specifically, we focused our inquiry on the following seven thematic strands.  Members of the CEE Executive Committee and other leading English educators served as co-conveners of the thematic strand groups:  (1) Janet Alsup, Purdue University, and Bob Yagelski, University at Albany, State University of New York; (2) Peg Graham, University of Georgia, and Ruth Vinz, Teachers College, Columbia University; (3) Bob Fecho, University of Georgia, and Fenice Boyd, University at Buffalo, State University of New York; (4) Janet Swenson, Michigan State University, and Ewa McGrail, Georgia State University; (5) Joyce Stallworth, University of Alabama, and Stephen Koziol, University of Maryland; (6) Don Zancanella, University of New Mexico, and John Mayher, New York University; and (7) Dawn Abt-Perkins, Lake Forest College, and Jill VanAntwerp, Grand Valley State University.

To access each thematic strand group's statement, click on the seven hyperlinks below.  We invite and encourage feedback and discussion from all CEE members (see "Next Steps" below).

  1. What is English education?  What makes the field of English education unique?  How might we (re)conceptualize our field for the 21st century?  What are the particular aspects of the field of English education that set it apart from general research, theory, and practice in teacher education and in English?  How has our field changed over time, and where should we be headed next?  What particular aspects of English education should we rethink and revise?  What is the relationship of English education to other academic disciplines (especially to English as it is currently understood and structured)?  Given the emphasis on education/arts and sciences collaborations, how might a better understanding of and commitment to our hybrid situation (in education and in English) help us in program design and in our work with new and experienced teachers and teacher educators?  How might our conception of the field of English education guide teacher preparation and professional development programs as well as doctoral programs in English education?  How might we best communicate to policy makers and other stakeholders what we know and believe about the uniqueness of the field of English education?
      
  2. What do we know and believe about the roles of methods courses and field experiences in English education?  Given the discussions in recent CEE Colloquia on methods courses and field experiences in English education, what are some of the most promising, cutting-edge approaches to these familiar aspects of English education programs?  What does existing research indicate about the influence of English education methods courses and field experiences on new teachers' learning and teaching?  What are some new directions for research in these areas?  What are the relationships among methods courses, initial field experiences, and student teaching, and what should they be?  What are the connections between school-based and university-based mentors and supervisors, and what should they be?  How might endeavors such as teacher research or service learning provide a framework for methods course or field experience design?  How can issues of culture and critical literacy be meaningfully infused in methods courses and field experiences?  How might we best communicate to policy makers and other stakeholders the importance of the role of methods courses and field experiences in English education?
      
  3. What do we know and believe about supporting linguistically and culturally diverse learners in English education?  What do new and experienced teachers need to know about their linguistically and culturally diverse students' literacy learning?  What theoretical and research-based approaches might support new and experienced teachers' development of intercultural competence and culturally relevant pedagogies?  What should new and experienced teachers know about language acquisition and English language learning?  about language variation and dialect?  What promising practices related to cultural and linguistic diversity should English educators share with new teachers and teacher educators?  What are some new directions for research in this area?  How might we best communicate to policy makers and other stakeholders what we know and believe about supporting culturally and linguistically diverse learners in English education?
      
  4. What do we know and believe about multi-modal literacies and digital technologies in English education?  How might English educators best support new and experienced teachers' learning about and engagement with the multi-modal literacies that are commonplace in a digital environment?  What are these multi-modal literacies, and how might they be defined or characterized?  What theoretical and research-based approaches can promote stances and attitudes that will prepare 21st century teachers for the rapid pace of change in these multi-modal literacies?  What do new and experienced teachers and teacher educators need to know about the intersection of English education and digital technologies?  What are some new directions for research in this area?  How might we best communicate to policy makers and other stakeholders what we know and believe about multi-modal literacies and digital technologies in English education?
      
  5. How might we more meaningfully assess the effectiveness of English education programs?  In what ways do effective English education programs influence both teacher and student learning in the English language arts?  What evidence do we value that shows that our work makes a difference in teachers' and students' learning?  What does existing research indicate about the influence of English education programs?  What are some new directions for research in this area?  What promising data collection tools and authentic assessments could be developed to expand the empirical base for understanding these influences--both for specific programs and for the field at large? What can CEE do to advance the use of these new assessments and to compile and synthesize resulting data?  How might CEE complicate, trouble, and enrich the current conversation concerning approaches to teacher education program assessment and evaluation? Given the recent emphasis on accreditation program requirements (e.g., NCATE required assessments regarding teacher candidates' effects on student learning), how might English educators best communicate to policy makers and other stakeholders what we know and believe about the meaningful assessment of English education students and programs?
      
  6. How can CEE help its constituencies, the broader public, and policymakers understand the relationship between research and teaching?  More broadly, how can CEE and English educators help new and experienced teachers and teacher educators better understand the politics of research and literacy (including current issues such as high-stakes testing, NCLB, and new federal regulations regarding preferred research studies using randomized trials and experimental design)?  How do various research traditions inform the work of teachers and teacher educators?  How can we frame these issues/policies to highlight CEE values and in ways that help new and experienced teachers and teacher educators productively respond to policies and politics in their schools and communities?  How can we best communicate to policy makers and other stakeholders what we know and believe about the relationship between research and teaching and the roles of various research traditions in English education?
      
  7. How might we nurture and grow the membership of CEE?  What specific directions might CEE take to nurture and grow its membership?  In particular, how might we best serve those who are new to the field of English education?  What theoretical and research-based works on mentoring might provide guidance for CEE and for doctoral programs in English education?  What are the benefits of CEE membership for new and experienced English educators, and what should these benefits be?  What are the defining characteristics of typical CEE members, and what are the unique needs of the various constituencies in our organization?  Are there other constituencies we might want to include in our ongoing conversations?  Who might those be and how might we best reach them?  How might we (re)frame a description of the work of CEE that would be more inclusive of all current and potential members?  How might we best communicate the benefits of CEE membership to current and future members?
Next Steps

Through the outcomes of the Leadership and Policy Summit, CEE aims to accomplish several broad goals:  to develop committed diverse leadership for CEE within NCTE; to build and renew community, coherence, and communication within CEE; and to discuss better and more productive ways to serve our constituencies in order to increase CEE?s membership.  However, perhaps most important, we believe that the Leadership and Policy Summit and the resulting outcomes will enable us to develop a consensus plan for leadership in English education that will serve as an organizing template for future CEE efforts.

To that end, we invite all members of CEE to respond to the initial outcomes of the CEE Leadership and Policy Summit in one or more ways:

  • Send a response to one or more beliefs statements to cee@ncte.org. Please specify which statement you are commenting on in the Subject of your email.
  • Attend the CEE Business meeting in Pittsburgh where each thematic strand group will briefly discuss its process and findings. 
  • Contact Suzanne Miller (smiller@buffalo.edu), Dana Fox (dfox@gsu.edu) or any member of the CEE Executive Committee.

Document and Site Resources

Share This On:

Page Tools:

Join NCTE Today

Related Search Terms

  • There currently are no related search terms for this page.

Copyright

Copyright © 1998-2014 National Council of Teachers of English. All rights reserved in all media.

1111 W. Kenyon Road, Urbana, Illinois 61801-1096 Phone: 217-328-3870 or 877-369-6283

Looking for information? Browse our FAQs, tour our sitemap and store sitemap, or contact NCTE

Read our Privacy Policy Statement and Links Policy. Use of this site signifies your agreement to the Terms of Use

Visit us on:
Facebook Twitter Linked In Pinterest Instagram