Conference on English Leadership
A collaborative, dynamic, discussion-based forum for literacy leaders.
Call for Proposals: 2023 CEL Annual Convention
November 19–21, 2023
Literacy Communities as Sites of Reckoning and Repair
The proposal submission deadline was 9:00 a.m. ET on Wednesday, April 12, 2023.
We live in an era of seemingly ever-growing polarization: cultural, political, and social. Yet this divisiveness is often intentionally overstated. Despite all the sound and the fury that pundits and strategists have created around the so-called education culture wars, the narrative just does not hold. We know that most families are quite satisfied with both their schools and the curriculum their children encounter there (NPR/Ipsos, 2022). We also know that most Americans find themselves in bipartisan agreement on a host of political issues, from reproductive rights to clean energy, campaign finance, and gun laws (Carr Center, Harvard University, 2020; Gallup, 2018; Ipsos, 2018; Pew, 2022; Program for Public Consultation, University of Maryland, 2020; Quinnipiac University, 2018).
At the same time, as our young people grow into adults, we know well the echo chambers that await; reductionist, intellectually lazy, and at their worst, downright hateful, these alternate realities—and their impact on our collective ability to read, write, speak, listen, and think clearly—loom large in the consciousness of literacy leaders. Yet as leaders, we are well-positioned to play a vital role in envisioning and enacting alternatives to the narrative of deepening divides. With and within the literacy communities we lead, we can promote and facilitate social healing that restores people, communities, and nations. We can work alongside one another and within our communities to confront the immense complexities of this era, to grapple with what divides us, what values underpin our shared or disparate beliefs, and how to understand one another and disagree democratically and civilly, in ways that honor a shared humanity. We can cultivate conditions for true fellowship in our literacy communities, and empower our organizations, colleagues, staff, and learners to play active roles in determining the course of our local, national, and global fates. We can create the conditions for transformational literacy work that writes a new national narrative—one that threatens those who stand to profit from manufactured division.
In seeking true fellowship, women’s reproductive rights activist Frances Kissling rejects the notion of common ground, insisting that this pursuit is ultimately fruitless—what we must find instead is mutual understanding. This work cannot happen without conflict, and Carla Shalaby is clear: “We want healthy community conflict that is well-supported, well-scaffolded, and is worked through in democratic, community-building kinds of ways.” The Conference on English Leadership’s 2023 Annual Convention calls for us to do the difficult work of defining the means toward the change we seek in our social reality, of coming together to offer our many and varied approaches to literacy leadership as a powerful tool in the work of social healing. We invite proposals that consider the following:
- How are your organizations, schools, departments, or classrooms conceiving of the difficult work of holding space for both reckoning with what we are and repairing our communities to what we know they can be?
- What does the work of reckoning with conflicting values and moving toward repair look like in literacy communities that have been long divided philosophically, politically, or otherwise? How can this work extend to relationships with families and the larger community?
- How can we re-culture our literacy communities at the local, regional, or national level toward prioritizing mutual understanding over common ground? What norms, practices, and ways of being can help cultivate a new, restorative vision?
- More locally, how are your organizations, schools, departments, or classrooms working to unlearn and reject media narratives that shape an overblown sense of division?
- How can we look outside of our immediate communities to broaden our understanding of what it looks like to understand complex contexts, draw on interdisciplinary knowledge and skills, and create generative solutions to the problems we face?
- How can schools, departments, and teacher leaders re-envision literacy curriculum and instruction toward supporting engaged, responsible citizens who understand that there are no solutions, there is no liberation, that can grow from our individual efforts alone?
The deadline for submitting proposals has been extended and is now 9:00 a.m. ET, Wednesday, April 12, 2023.
We look forward to seeing you at the 2023 CEL Annual Convention November 19–21, 2023!
2023 CEL Convention Program Chair
- Proposal submission deadline was 9:00 a.m. ET on Wednesday, April 12, 2023
- Proposal notifications: by May 31, 2023
- Registration & housing information available: Summer 2023
- Conference dates: November 19–21, 2023, Columbus, OH