Other Group

Teachers College Reading and Writing Project (TCRWP)

Website:

https://readingandwritingproject.org/

Type:

Educational Consultancy

Founder:

Lucy Calkins

Formation:

1981

Teachers College Reading and Writing Project (TCRWP) is an educational development and diversity consultancy based at Columbia University that receives public school funds. [1] [2] TCRWP leadership have advocated for critical race theory-aligned pedagogy and schooling theories. [3] [4]

Background

Lucy Calkins founded Teachers College Reading and Writing Project in 1981 as an education think tank that would research professional development methods and alternative curricula. [5] Before that, Calkins worked as a researcher with education specialist Donald Graves on a study of children’s writing funded by the National Institute of Education. [6] Over time, TCRWP became more involved with school principals and leaders, statistical data, and “an effort to fight oppression and be anti-racist.” [7]

Activity

The stated mission of Teachers College Reading and Writing Project is to help students become better readers and writers. [8]

TCRWP hosts monthly events with school leaders and weekly virtual meetings with figures in the education world. It also runs nearly forty “mini-institutes” annually on topics of equity and racial inclusivity, and more than a hundred local institutes in school districts all over the world. TCRWP has an extensive relationship with New York City’s school system as well as school districts in Chicago, Albany, and Seattle, and internationally in countries like Israel, Sweden, Jordan, and others. [9] [10]

Former Mayor of New York City and 2020 Democratic presidential primary candidate Michael Bloomberg was a proponent of TCRWP’s Balanced Literacy program and mandated that it be taught in New York City schools. Balanced Literacy aims to replace the traditional phonics-based Language Arts curriculum with a “whole language” approach, arguing that breaking down language into spelling and pronunciation clouds students’ ability to write well. Bloomberg’s mandate played into the nationwide “Reading Wars” between phonics-based learning and whole language learning. [11]

Gilbert T. Sewall at National Review criticized Balanced Literacy as a “fuzzy,” “feel-good” program. Sewall noted that more than 10,000 New York City teachers had attended TCRWP workshops and lectures, and that TCRWP had been awarded millions of dollars in city contracts. [12]

One of TCRWP’s publications is the Classroom Library Series, published through the Heinemann publishing house, a series of books for K-8 students including traditional subjects like biography and history and a less traditional “strong social justice component.” [13]

Leadership

Teachers College Reading and Writing Project was founded and is led by Lucy Calkins, who also heads its team of writers and curriculum developers. Longtime senior deputy directors Laurie Pessah and Mary Ehrenworth assist Calkins. Pessah works as the outreach and client development director, who creates and maintains relationships with various schools, and Ehrenworth oversees the formulation of professional development methods. [14]

Sonja Cherry-Paul is TCRWP’s director of equity and diversity. She is a New York Times bestselling author and advocate for Ibram X. Kendi‘s radical-left and critical race theory-aligned ideology of “anti-racism.” [15] [16] In January 2022, she described legislation restricting the teaching of the controversial academic theory as a call to “ban all Black books” and announced her nationwide campaign to “spotlight the full humanity of Black people” in order to “disrupt white supremacy in all of its forms.” To this end, she called on American teachers to defend the teaching of critical race theory and left-progressive historical narratives. [17]

References

  1. “Consultant Report Card.” DefendingEd.org. Accessed February 2, 2022. https://defendinged.org/report/teachers-college-reading-and-writing-project/. ^
  2. “About.” Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. Accessed January 16, 2022. https://readingandwritingproject.org/about/. ^
  3. Dr. Sonja Cherry-Paul. Twitter. Accessed January 16, 2022. https://twitter.com/SonjaCherryPaul/. ^
  4. “Sonja Cherry-Paul, Ed.D.” LinkedIn. Accessed January 16, 2022. https://www.linkedin.com/in/sonja-cherrypaul/. ^
  5. “About.” Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. Accessed January 16, 2022. https://readingandwritingproject.org/about/. ^
  6. Regie Routman. “Donald Graves: Outstanding Educator in the Language Arts.” Language Arts. November 1995. https://cdn.ncte.org/nctefiles/about/awards/graveslaarticle.pdf ^
  7. “About.” Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. Accessed January 16, 2022. https://readingandwritingproject.org/about/. ^
  8. “Lucy M. Calkins.” Teachers College – Columbia University. October 27, 2013. Accessed 16 January 2022. https://www.tc.columbia.edu/articles/2013/october/lucy-m-calkins/. ^
  9. “About.” Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. Accessed January 16, 2022. https://readingandwritingproject.org/about/. ^
  10. “Lucy M. Calkins.” Teachers College – Columbia University. October 27, 2013. Accessed January 16, 2022. https://www.tc.columbia.edu/articles/2013/october/lucy-m-calkins/. ^
  11. Robert Kolker. “A Is for Apple, B Is for Brawl.” New York Magazine. April 20, 2006. Accessed January 16, 2022. https://nymag.com/news/features/16775/index1.html. ^
  12. Gilbert T. Sewall. “Fuzzy Reading: Columbia University Teachers College offers a feel-good reading program.” National Review. September 12, 2007. Accessed January 16, 2022. https://www.nationalreview.com/2007/09/fuzzy-reading-gilbert-t-sewall/. ^
  13. “Judging Books – They’ve Got It Covered.” Teachers College – Columbia University. November 7, 2016. Accessed January 16, 2022. https://www.tc.columbia.edu/articles/2016/november/judging-books–theyve-got-it-covered/. ^
  14. “About – Our Story.” Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. Accessed January 16, 2022. https://readingandwritingproject.org/about/our-story. ^
  15. Dr. Sonja Cherry-Paul. Twitter. Accessed January 16, 2022. https://twitter.com/SonjaCherryPaul/. ^
  16. “Sonja Cherry-Paul, Ed.D.” LinkedIn. Accessed January 16, 2022. https://www.linkedin.com/in/sonja-cherrypaul/. ^
  17. Dr. Sonja Cherry-Paul. Twitter. January 9, 2022. Accessed January 16, 2022. https://twitter.com/SonjaCherryPaul/status/1480241133326372867?s=20. ^
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