It was wonderful to have the opportunity for face to face conversations at the Annual Meeting in Chicago. At the NWP booth at the NCTE convention center, in small group discussions at the Annual Meeting, in the Palmer House lobby, and in public affairs emails, you have asked me to say more about the “new normal” of federal competitive funding so I’m giving it a try in this blog post. In addition to the information I will share here, I invite you to join in a continuing conversation about this topic. To respond to additional questions you might have, we have set up two dial-in conference call opportunities in December. (See details below). And once we learn the outcome of our Title II Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) proposal in January 2012, we will set up another round of calls. In the meantime, please post your thoughts here and keep sending questions – the “new normal” of competitive funding for all education programs means that there is much to talk about.
Where we are now
Last year the federal government broke our collective heart when all directed funding for national education programs was eliminated from the budget. This decision changed the funding landscape for NWP along with other national non-profit organizations – including Reading Is Fundamental, the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, and Teach for America.
The “new normal”, as they say in DC, is competitive funding for all education programs. Fortunately and thanks to our advocacy work together over the last 20 years, NWP is well-positioned to compete for funding on behalf of the network.
Congress created a competitive funding stream with a 1% set-aside of Title II funds for national non-profits entitled the Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) program.
One of the three Absolute Priorities named in the SEED program is:
“Professional development/enhancement of teachers of English language arts with a specific focus on writing.” While other organizations are also able to compete for these funds, we have a strong track record to build upon. In November we submitted a funding proposal for the entire NWP network built upon the goals of developing effective educators as outlined in the grant application. Take a look at the information in the Federal Register that describes the SEED grant criteria. And here you can read the Proposal Abstract.
In a competitive world, there is no time to rest. Right now, Congress is debating the reauthorization of ESEA and the budget for 2012. In the Senate version of the budget, there is a proposal for a 5% set-aside of Title II funds for the next SEED competition. However, in the current House version of the budget even the 1% set-aside has been eliminated.
Our advocacy efforts to encourage our elected representatives to include funding for national education non-profits in future federal budgets have to continue so that so we are able to compete for federal education funds. The federal government remains an important source of support for the work of NWP sites across the country.
Our hearts will continue to be broken sometimes. This past summer NWP applied for, but did not receive, an Investing in Innovation grant or i3, focused on middle and high schools in rural districts in five states. We will continue to look for funding for the program proposed in the i3 grant as well as to draft new proposals. We also know that we will continue to win and lose in some of these future competitions.
The good news for right now is that we are still a network of active, committed teacher-leaders at 197 writing project sites. The federal investment over the past 20 years has helped all of us create a national improvement infrastructure for the teaching of writing. Our work and our voices matter. Let’s keep talking together.
Plan to call in to one of the following conference calls to ask questions you might have or share your thoughts or ideas:
Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2011 4:00 PM Pacific/7:00 PM Eastern
Friday, Dec. 9, 2011 at 12:00 noon Pacific/3:00 PM Eastern
Dial-in number: 866-740-1260
Access code: 880-4015
Or email Joye Alberts email@example.com to schedule a time that is convenient for you.