National Center for Family Literacy Ruminates on Education Policy

This past weekend, the National Center for Family Literacy (NCFL) held a conference in San Diego, California with best-selling authors and education leaders in attendance. The NCFL focuses on bolstering family literacy programs. Conference participants sat in on sessions regarding parent engagement, financial literacy, English as a Second Language, education technology, among other issues.

The conference attracted a wide array of people passionate about education. Notable speakers at the conference included author John Grogan of Marley and Me, Karen Mapp of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and Dorothy Bush Koch of the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy. In the opening session, an underlining theme was the need for educators to stay strong despite the slow economy.

“Teachers and administrators in these tough budget times have become like magicians, pulling rabbits out of the hat to keep programs going despite funding,” said Sharon Darling, president and founder of NCFL.

Wes Moore, the closing speaker at the opening session, also reiterated Darling’s thoughts on education as a stronghold in U.S. society.

“I’m a firm believer that our nation’s greatest battles will not be fought and won overseas. Our nation’s greatest human capital that we can produce in this country is in the classroom,” remarked Moore, author of The Other Wes Moore as well as national correspondent for a number of television programs.

One particular interesting session featured a panel that discussed federal policies that could affect schools in the upcoming school year. Some of the legislation mentioned included the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (otherwise known as No Child Left Behind), the Workforce Reinvestment Act, and the Rebuild America Act. Panelists encouraged teachers and administrators to proactively demonstrate their support of education programs to members of Congress.

“You have to be engaged in the process, you can’t give these folks a pass,” recommended Leticia Mederos, a vice president at the National Partnership for Women and Families and a previous chief of staff to Congressman Rosa L. DeLauro (D-CT). “You have to be fearless, you have to go out there and dish it out on both sides.”
Later on in the session, conference attendees had the opportunity to ask questions of the panel, many of which centered on competitive grant programs like Race to the Top and the state of Title I Funding.

“It’s incredibly important for all of you to be involved,” commented David Johns, a senior education policy advisor to the Senate committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP). “The programs that people do not advocate for will be the programs to be the first to go.”