November 12, 2012
Dear Council Members,
As we approach our Annual Convention, I offer a brief update to give you a sense of the general sweep of Council movement since the end of the summer and to indicate certain possibilities for our organization in the immediate future.
First, we are steadily advancing toward our goal of making the National Center for Literacy Education fully functional. You may recall from my earlier reports that the NCLE represents the belief by NCTE leadership -- and we are backed in that belief by 30 national organizations and a grant of 4.4 million dollars from the Ball Foundation -- that building capacity for teacher-collaboration at the school/site level is crucial to attempts to improve literacy learning and is a vital component of education reform overall. Moreover, a presumption behind the NCLE model is that the responsibility for improving the quality of student literacy learning is shared by faculty, administrators, parents, and community members. Thus, the focus is not on literacy methods in and of themselves, but on the fruitful planning, experimentation, implementation, and refinement that can result from collaborative inquiry and sustained professional development. As of September, several key mechanisms for operating NCLE have been in place, including the Literacy and Learning Exchange and the NCLE SmartBrief newsletter, which now has 15,000 subscribers. Of course, I urge you to take advantage of these resources. In addition to infrastructure building, NCLE has initiated a national study of the school conditions that support teacher collaboration and teacher decision making.
NCLE has incorporated more than 40 participating groups so far. As that number increases over the coming months, NCLE will obviously become a more powerful demonstration of school reform. This should help us to attract investments from organizations, agencies, and foundations as we construct a sustainable model for NCLE.
On other fronts, we remain active in groups that share our commitment to improving language arts teaching and learning, entities such as the Connected Learning Coalition, the Coalition for Teaching Quality, and Advocates for Literacy. In addition, we continue to promote NCTE positions and spread our expertise among legislators, Department of Education staff members, and others.
Fiscally, our organization is stable. We are not teeming with riches by any means, but we have survived the recession and its aftermath in reasonable shape in the world of membership associations. Enrollment rates have even increased over the first quarter of fiscal year 2013. We do not know if the figures suggest a growth spurt, but we have halted the decline in membership and project a modest increase over the coming year. This would enhance our ability to pursue our mission. Unquestionably, NCTE still faces difficult political and funding challenges, but reasons exist for at least guarded optimism. That is certainly my disposition as I head for Las Vegas.
Thank you all for whatever support you have extended and for the helpful suggestions that you have provided. To be president of NCTE has been an honor; many of you have made it a pleasure.
Keith Gilyard, NCTE President