National Writing Project

Investing in the Improvement of Education: Lessons to be Learned from the National Writing Project

By: Laura Stokes, Mark St. John
Date: December 2008

Summary: The authors argue that educational progress in the United States has been limited because improvement has been treated as "expenditure, not investment." The NWP, however, provides a model that creates a "robust, cost-efficient infrastructure for education improvement."


Excerpt from Report

Currently, the U.S. educational policy system appears to be unwilling or unable to devote funds to the creation of educational improvement capital. The result is that the educational operating system in the U.S. is not capable of supporting the work needed to improve itself. Worse, without the existence of improvement infrastructures, the educational operating system becomes "uninvestable," having very little capacity to use well the funds that are invested. This leads to a vicious downward spiral. The absence of capacity and the absence of investment lead to a chronically depleted and undernourished system.

In retrospect, it is not surprising that progress since the publication of A Nation at Risk has been episodic and uneven at best. What is needed now is a sustained program of steady investment in the nation's educational improvement infrastructure. Such investment could lead to ongoing support systems that can support continuous improvement of teaching and learning in the United States. The National Writing Project provides a clear and dramatic example of effective investment in a sound improvement infrastructure, and of generating, over many years, educational improvement capital. We hope that the NWP can be seen and understood as illustrating a fundamentally different way of investing in the future of our nation and its children.

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