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NCTE Position Statement

Resolution on Diversity

1999 NCTE Annual Business Meeting in Denver, Colorado

Background

The primary function of the National Council of Teachers of English is to foster the understanding of teaching and learning in English language arts by its members and by all others (parents, administrators, politicians) who have significant roles related to the language and learning lives of students not only in the United States but also throughout the world. Learning and understanding are enhanced and enriched through multiple points of view and experiences, and severely curtailed under teaching conditions and practices which limit and restrict experience and perspective, and fail to account for the complexity of language.

However, a number of perspectives in United States schools—for example, those of people of color, non-native speakers of English, recent immigrants (especially from impoverished or war-torn areas of the world), members of underfunded rural and inner-city communities, lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and the transgendered—has not been sufficiently represented in curricular materials, broadly speaking, for the teaching of English language arts and English studies. While majority rule and consensus reflect the appearance of democratic practice, they often do not seriously incorporate the voices and lived experiences of particular groups and individuals, and therefore often reproduce the dominant culture rather than questioning and transforming it. Our commitment to cultural diversity, therefore, remains unfinished if it merely subordinates the voices, positions, and lived experiences of socially marginalized groups in an unaltered view and theory of the world. Be it therefore

Resolution

RESOLVED, that the National Council of Teachers of English continue to

  1. Affirm, seek, and encourage all teachers to include a diversity of perspectives, cultures, aesthetic responses, and experiences in the teaching and learning of English language arts;
  2. Take proactive measures to enable its members, the larger profession of English language arts teachers, and community and political leaders to resist racism, sexism, homophobia, Eurocentrism, the privileging of English, economic injustice, and other forms of domination;
  3. Proactively re-examine the relation of dominant forms of language, knowledge, and culture to the democratization of expression, articulation, and access;
  4. Seek broad integral participation by the Council’s assemblies, committees, and caucuses which are charged with questioning dominant forms of language, knowledge, and culture and with producing new kinds of thinking about difference; and
  5. Promote conversations with a broad range of groups and constituencies about the values of difference for a democracy.

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