Angered by the removal of two professional associations from the federally financed project to set national standards for English, some teachers have threatened to ignore the standards eventually drafted for that subject.
In March, the U.S. Education Department refused to extend its contract with the National Council of Teachers of English and the International Reading Association after 18 months of work. Department officials cited what they said was a lack of progress and other deficiencies for terminating the relationship with the two organizations.
This past summer, the department solicited public comment on its "proposed priorities'' for 1995--one of which is to continue developing content standards for English. The department is trying to decide whether to seek proposals from other organizations wishing to work on the English standard-setting initiative. While many of the letters the department received voiced support for federal financing of the project, others warned that teachers may not cooperate in the effort.
"We will only support standards-creation efforts in which the National Council of Teachers of English and the International Reading Association are involved,'' Lois Stover, president of the Maryland Council of Teachers of English Language Arts, wrote.
"You will not get my services...nor those of most other educators from San Diego County,'' wrote Will Lindwall, an evaluation specialist for the San Diego schools.
Several of the letters received by the Aug. 15 deadline also raised concerns that a new standard-setting project would be based on traditional English and overlook cultural differences.
But the most stinging indictment came from Kenneth Goodman, a professor of language, reading, and culture at the University of Arizona in Tucson and a leading proponent of whole language instruction. Goodman, an outspoken critic of the national standard-setting movement, wrote that he hopes the department receives "no credible responses'' to any future request for proposals. "I believe that your office has already decided to award this contract to far-right ideologues and enemies of children and teachers,'' he wrote.
Meanwhile, the NCTE and the IRA are continuing work on their standards project--but at their own expense.
According to Alan Farstrup, executive director of the IRA, his group and the English teachers' council plan to issue a document by next June. Farstrup said it is conceivable his group would work with another organization involved in the federal project.
"If we can find ways to link up productively,'' he said, "we'll do that.''