Last week I got a breathless email from the NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English). It was headed "Reading and Writing Need Your Help Now." It detailed how funding is being cut for the National Writing Project and for Striving Readers, and asked for "an outpouring of outrage" from NCTE members, of which I am one.
I don't want to mock this email. I think spending government money on literacy is an excellent thing to do. If we had literate citizens, we could have more thoughtful dialogue and that would have to be a good thing. And there's a very real sense in which Reading and Writing have my help, since I spend my days doing my dead-level best to teach my middle school students both. (Just to show my good faith, here's a link to the NCTE website where you can find out what you can do to help restore funding for these programs.)
This week, I got a robo-call from Michel Martelly, who is running for President of Haiti (where I live). Introducing himself as Tet Kale (shaved head), and addressing me as ti-cheri (little darling), Sweet Mickey (his stage name in his highly successful musical career) informed me that education in Haiti will be free if he is elected. Hmm. I believe that free education is one of the essential cornerstones of a developing democracy, but I have a hard time imagining that Martelly can bring this about. Reading and Writing Need Help in this country of below 50% literacy. So many children never even get to go to school at all.
So all of that preamble to say that I get it, I know that education needs to be funded, I know that many children can't read. But I was just fascinated by the title of the note, and I kept it in my in-box all week, looking at it every day. Reading and Writing Need My Help Now.
Finally I wrote this, using all true examples from my own classroom:
Reading and Writing Need My Help
Reading and Writing Need My Help Now!
Funding is going to be cut!
Literacy hangs in the balance!
A fourteen year old boy writes a Valentine poem.
He says she smells good and he loves her.
A girl grabs eagerly at a note passed by her neighbor.
What will it say?
"If I couldn't text you," writes a girl in the back row
In a poem to her boyfriend,
"My life would be empty."
"Tell my daughter to stop reading so much," a woman begs.
"She hardly sleeps!"
Two boys fight over an Alex Rider book.
There's a moment during Silent Reading
When I hardly want to breathe
As twenty-five brains focus on twenty-five different books
And turn the page to see
What happens next.
Reading and Writing don't need my help.
Ruth, from thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com
Here's today's Poetry Friday roundup.
3 hours ago