1999 NCTE Annual Business Meeting in Denver, Colorado
The House of Representatives recently considered a resolution (H.CON.RES.214) that would recommend that (1) "phonemic awareness followed by direct systematic phonics instruction should be used in all schools as a first, and essential step in teaching a student to read; and (2) phonics instruction should be an integral part of pre-service teaching requirements so that teachers will have the skills to effectively teach reading." Although the resolution failed to win the necessary two-thirds majority by a vote of 224 "yes" to 193 "no," it is nevertheless an ominous sign that Congress is poised to intrude upon the professional decision making of classroom teachers and teacher educators in regard to the teaching of reading.
In 1998, NCTE responded to the passage of the Reading Excellence Act by passing the Resolution on Continued Government Intrusion into Professional Decision Making, thereby taking a strong position regarding this issue. However, with the recent introduction of H.CON.RES.214, it now becomes necessary for NCTE further to condemn the latest legislative attempts to interfere with professional decision making regarding the teaching of reading and to take a proactive role in warding off such legislative interference. Be it therefore
RESOLVED, that the National Council of Teachers of English
- Declare that neither Congress nor any state legislative body should mandate, recommend, or support a particular approach or methodologies for teaching reading and the other language arts in classrooms and teacher preparation programs;
- Condemn any such efforts to legislate at the federal or state level a particular approach or methodologies for teaching reading and the other language arts in classrooms and teacher preparation programs;
- Communicate and publicize our strong opposition to and condemnation of any such legislative efforts to government officials, federal and state agencies, the profession, and the public at large;
- Urge its members to take an active role in resisting all forms of political intrusion into curricular and methodological decisions in the teaching of reading and other language arts;
- Urge the Commission on Reading to develop and submit to the Executive Committee for approval a position statement on reading research and the need for local control and respect for teacher professionalism in making decisions about teaching reading and the other language arts;
- Communicate and publicize any such position statement that may be approved by the Executive Committee to government officials, federal and state agencies, the profession, and the public at large; and
- Urge SLATE (Support for the Learning and Teaching of English), the political arm of NCTE, to take further actions in support of this resolution.