Resolution on English Education for Critical Literacy in Politics and Media

Approved by NCTE Members Voting at the Annual Business Meeting for the
Board of Directors and Other Members of the Council, November 2018


Background: Whereas policy is often derived from the needs of a given moment–according to Kahlenberg and Janey (2016), one of those great needs is the preparation of students “to be reflective citizens who would value liberty and democracy and resist the appeals of demagogues”;

Whereas to address the changing political and media climates, we believe it is time to modify and extend NCTE’s previous and continuing commitments, as defined in a 1971 NCTE resolution:

That the National Council of Teachers of English find means to study the relation of language to public policy, to keep track of, publicize, and combat semantic distortion by public officials, candidates for office, political commentators, and all those who transmit through the mass media;

Whereas this and other resolutions helped prompt projects such as the NCTE Committee on Public Doublespeak, along with programs and publications by NCTE;

Whereas post-truths (routine, political lies that face no condemnation) now permeate political and social discourse, while English language arts commonly focuses heavily on literary knowledge, providing little time for the evaluation of post-truths (Bacon, 2017; Hall & Piazza, 2010);

Whereas “the ability to interrogate social, historical, and political contestations of literacy is a pivotal educational mandate” (Bacon, 2017); and

Whereas critical literacy “describes a pedagogical approach to reading that focuses on the political, sociocultural, historical, and economic forces that shape young students’ lives” (Soares & Wood, 2010); be it therefore


Resolved that the National Council of Teachers of English


Bacon, C. K. (2017). Multilanguage, multipurpose: A literature review, synthesis, and framework for critical literacies in English language teaching. Journal of Literacy Research, 49(3), 424–453. Retrieved from [2].

Hall, L. A., & Piazza, S. V. (2010). Challenging texts: Engaging with critical literacy–Reflections on teaching and learning. English Journal, 99(5), 91–94. Retrieved from [3].

Kahlenberg, R. D., & Janey, C. (2016). Is Trump’s victory the jump-start civics education needed? Atlantic Monthly, November 2016. Retrieved from [4].

Soares, L. B., & Wood, K. (2010). A critical literacy perspective for teaching and learning social studies. The Reading Teacher, 63(6), 486–494. Retrieved from [5]

On February 22, 2019, the NCTE Executive Committee formally approved this resolution, which was first introduced and voted on by the Board of Directors at the 2018 Annual Convention. The resolution was introduced to the entire membership for a vote in January before final review by the Executive Committee.

This position statement may be printed, copied, and disseminated without permission from NCTE.