When I think of “earmarks,” I think of fluff — of bridges to nowhere and multimillion dollar research centers that have absurd missions, of things that don’t necessarily impact my life. When first started to hear about the push to end earmarks, I figured: I can live with that. It might mean one less terminal, or one less mile of bike trails, or one less repaved roadway, but I can live with it in this age of austerity.
I should know better, of course, being the old newspaper reporter and political junkie that I was. I’m a beneficiary of earmarks in a way that I never really thought about.
It turns out that my National Writing Project, as well as number of other important educational programs (RIFF, etc.) are also earmarks in the federal budget. Which means that the vote on Monday in the United States Senate on a proposal by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) to completely eliminate earmarks for this current budget year, and the next few years, could completely financially dismantle the National Writing Project, which relies heavily on federal funding to provide crucial and important professional development for tens of thousands of teachers, and teacher-leaders, in the country across all grade levels.
So, I’ve been on the phone, calling my senators (Kerry and Brown) to urge them to reject the Coburn Amendment, and contacting fellow Western Massachusetts Writing Project folks, urging them to do the same. And you, too, please, if you are in the NWP network or have benefitted from NWP or if you care about education. Please pick up the phone and show your support.
Here is an open letter from NWP Exective Director Sharon Washington:
NWP Letter to Senators
Peace (in the push),