Resolution on Teachers’ Right to Teach

1996 NCTE Annual Business Meeting in Chicago, Illinois


This resolution deals with teachers’ right to intellectual freedom. Resolutions dating from the 1970s, position statements, and books already exist which define and defend teachers’ rights to discuss and decide what to teach:

The documents named above clearly affirm the rights of students to read and have access to a variety of books and other media. These documents also defend the rights of teachers as professionals to participate in decisions about what books and other media materials to teach. We have a strong position on the right to read. We now need a strong statement on the right to teach using methods which are accepted by the profession but which may not have local acceptance. No clear statement exists addressing the rights of teachers to use possibly controversial methods or to provide experiences that broaden students’ ways of thinking. Be it therefore


Resolved, that the National Council of Teachers of English issue a strong statement on teachers’ right to teach using methods accepted by the profession;

that NCTE affirm the right to teach so as to provide educational experiences that promote open inquiry, critical thinking, diversity in thought and expression, and respect for others; and

that NCTE continue to support the joint committee of SLATE (Support for the Learning and Teaching of English) and the Standing Committee Against Censorship in publishing professional guidelines for teachers’ right to teach.


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