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NCTE Position Statement

Resolution on Social Justice in Literacy Education


2010 NCTE Annual Business Meeting in Orlando, Florida


As we move toward celebrating the 100th anniversary of NCTE in 2011, this resolution honors the pioneering efforts of those trailblazers who paved the way toward the establishment of more equitable schooling practices for all students. While there have been great successes, there is still much more work to be done.


Research confirms that teacher knowledge and competency are directly related to the “quality and equitable delivery of education and student academic achievement” (Ayers, 1998; Darling-Hammond, 1997; Flores-Gonzalez, 2002; Kozol, 1991; Ladson-Billings, 2000; Nieto, 2000) (Ukpokodu, 2007, p. 8). Fewer than 10% of teachers are non-white, while the National Center for Education Statistics reports that 42% of public school students are non-white and the diversity of student languages, ethnicities, religions, and racial and cultural make-up continues to grow (Banks, 2004). Yet, teachers in the classrooms are predominantly white, middle class, and monolingual (Futrell, 2000; Kailin, 1999) and lack the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to work within schools that have a predominantly urban population. Kathleen Brown (2005) tells us “the evidence is clear that various segments of our public school population experiences negative and inequitable treatment on a daily basis” (p. 155) (Ladson-Billings, 1994; Sheurich & Laible, 1995; Valenzuela, 1999). Students of color and white students from low socioeconomic backgrounds experience lower standardized test scores, teacher expectations, and access to resources (Brown, 2005). In fact, over 4.4 million second language learners are enrolled in the United States public schooling system and are expected to take the same standardized tests and are typically evaluated similarly to students whose first language is English (Arce, Luna, Borjian & Conrad, 2005).


Even more alarming, in teacher education programs most teacher educators are predominantly white and fewer than 20% of all professors are non-white (Sleeter, 2008). In an attempt to meet the challenge of inequitable schooling, teacher education programs often revise their theoretical and pedagogical ideologies. However, a democratic system that is more comprehensive and balanced around student needs is required.


Literacy education can be used to disrupt such inequitable hierarchies of power and privilege by adopting a stance on social justice and priming it for policy. Through the efficacy that social justice can have in schools, we commit to interrupting current practices that reproduce social, cultural, moral, economic, gendered, intellectual, and physical injustices. To prime social justice for policy in schools, it must be understood that it evades easy definition and is a grounded theory, a stance/position, a pedagogy, a process, a framework for research, and a promise (“Beliefs about Social Justice in English Education,” CEE Position Statement, December 2009).


Through a sustained commitment to social justice in all its forms, English education can contribute to disrupting these inequitable hierarchies of power and privilege. Be it therefore




Resolved that the National Council of Teachers of English

  • support efforts by educators to teach about social injustice and discrimination in all its forms with regard to differences in race, ethnicity, culture, gender, gender expression, age, appearance, ability, national origin, language, spiritual belief, sexual orientation, socioeconomic circumstance, and environment;
  • acknowledge the vital role that teacher education programs play in preparing teachers to enact and value a pedagogy that is socially just;
  • advocate for equitable schooling practices that reinforce student dignity and success; and 
  • oppose policies that reinforce inequitable learning opportunities or outcomes for students.



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