National Council of Teachers of English’s James R. Squire Office Releases New Policy Briefs to Promote Literacy Instruction That Prepares Students for an Increasingly Diverse and Digital World - National Council of Teachers of English

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National Council of Teachers of English’s James R. Squire Office Releases New Policy Briefs to Promote Literacy Instruction That Prepares Students for an Increasingly Diverse and Digital World

New NCTE publications highlight organization’s commitment to student-centered literacy policy advocacy.


Contact: Kathleen Kennedy Manzo,


Champaign, Illinois-April 19, 2021—The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and its James R. Squire Office of Policy Research in English Language Arts unveiled three new policy briefs to address the urgency in expanding literacy instruction to ensure students are prepared to thrive in a world that is increasingly diverse and influenced by digital media. To do so, the field must rethink and expand programs to support teachers and teacher-candidates in developing an understanding of and proficiency in racial literacy, translanguaging, and critical media literacy.

The briefs, authored by leading scholars and released during the 2021 NCTE Virtual Leadership and Advocacy Summit on April 19,  focus on three timely issues impacting literacy educators and their students, including:

  • Racial Literacy by Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz, Teachers College at Columbia University—Sealey-Ruiz emphasizes that fostering student’s racial literacy begins with teacher education and preparation. She also outlines six components of racial literacy development: critical love, critical humility, critical reflection, historical literacy, archaeology of self, and interruption.
  • Understanding Translanguaging in US Literacy Classrooms: Reframing Bi-/Multilingualism as the Norm by Kate Seltzer, Rowan University, and Catí de los Ríos, UC Berkeley—Seltzer and de los Ríos identify translanguaging as the longstanding norm in the US and offer research-based examples of classrooms that have successfully taken up translanguaging. They also explore policies that would enable students and teachers to leverage bilingualism/multilingualism for learning.
  • Critical Media Literacy and Popular Culture in ELA Classrooms by Jamila Lyiscott, University of Massachusetts Amherst; Nicole Mirra, Rutgers University; and Antero Garcia, Stanford University—Garcia, Lyiscott and Mirra advise educators to integrate a wide range of media and popular culture into instruction, and they center students as content creators (not just consumers). The authors also call attention to the disparities in technological access that the COVID-19 pandemic illuminated.

“NCTE’s Squire Office focuses on policy matters that represent inflection points in the teaching of English Language Arts. The Office’s work merges policy and practice, exemplifying our belief in the expertise of teachers, and it puts the needs of students nationwide at the forefront. The policy briefs released today are timely and we look forward to new knowledge and opportunities to co-create policy that will emerge from the Squire Office’s ongoing work,” NCTE Executive Director Emily Kirkpatrick said.

Future policy briefs from NCTE’s Squire Office will highlight topics including antiracist teaching, culturally and historically responsive literacy, teaching African American and Latinx children’s and young adult literature, and engaging Chinese and Asian diaspora, hip-hop and youth cultural studies.

NCTE relaunched the James R. Squire Office of Policy Research in English Language Arts at the University of Notre Dame in 2020, under the leadership of Ernest Morrell, an NCTE Past President. Morrell is an influential scholar who studies the development of academic and critical literacy of adolescents of color in urban schools. He is currently the Director of the Center for Literacy Education at Notre Dame. In 2021, he will also become the Associate Dean for the Humanities and Equity in the College of Arts and Letters.

“We are very excited about the release and dissemination of these briefs on racial literacy, translanguaging, and critical media pedagogy. They represent the best of what we know about these areas, they are accessible, and they offer plenty of ideas for policy and classroom practice. I couldn’t be happier with the efforts of our first cohort of scholars, and I look equally forward to the conversations and transformations they are bound to inspire,” Morrell said.

NCTE established its Squire Office at the University of Michigan in 2003 to support reform in English Language Arts education by providing periodical reviews of research and policy analysis. The office’s name honors James R. Squire, who served as NCTE’s Executive Director from 1960–1967. NCTE Past President Anne Ruggles Gere directed the Squire Office from 2003–2016.

About NCTE

As the nation’s oldest organization of pre-K through graduate school literacy educators, the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) is devoted to improving the teaching and learning of English and the language arts at all levels of education. For more than 100 years, NCTE has worked with its members to offer journals, publications, and resources; to further the voice and expertise of educators as advocates for their students at the local and federal levels; and to share lesson ideas, research, and teaching strategies through its Annual Convention and other professional learning events.