English teachers from around the country gathered in Nashville this weekend for their annual conference, this year focusing on what they perceive as problems with the No Child Left Behind Act.
The National Council of Teachers of English has drafted a set of recommended changes to the NCLB law for members of Congress because it comes up for reauthorization next year.
One of those recommendations is modifying the Reading First program, which can used in kindergarten through third grades. Schools deemed failing by the NCLB standards are eligible for federal grant money when they use the Reading First program.
Incoming Council President Joanne Yatvin says because many school districts want the extra funding, Reading First is being used instead of locally designed reading programs. Yatvin says that means teachers are losing control of what materials they can use in their classrooms.
“Teachers in many places have been told get these other books out of your classrooms. We don’t want them here, we just want you to have the program books. You’re going to pollute the program by having all of these interesting books to read in your classroom. And that’s been happening all over the country.”
Yatvin says although the federal government created guidelines for Reading First, the program is offered from private educational materials companies. Yatvin says they only use books written for the programs or excerpts from traditional children’s literature.
The National Council of Teachers of English has over 50,000 members. About 7,000 attended this weekend’s conference at the Opryland Hotel.