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If you are a member of CRLA, you probably know about the proposal to change the name of the organization and eliminate the R for Reading.  Several position papers have been written in opposition to this change, and the latest appears below.  I hope you will read it.  So far, the response has been gratifying with support coming from reading instructors, learning specialists, directors of study skills centers, directors of academic achievement and learning centers, textbook authors, Professors of English, teacher educators, college deans, English instructors, Professors of Education, and present and former CRLA leaders. If you are a member of CRLA, you are invited to have your name added to the list as a supporter.  The details are at the end of the paper.  

 

 

If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It!

 

In previous issues of the CRLA newsletter, some members wrote articles suggesting that a change is needed for CRLA.  In this response, several long-time CRLA leaders, listed below in alphabetical order, voice their opposition to a name change. 

 

As the saying goes, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."  Unfortunately, what we are seeing is an attempt to portray CRLA as an organization needing fixing.  But let's look at the numbers.  Our membership continues to grow every year, from 1,014 in 2000 to 1144 in 2006, and so far this year, new and renewed memberships are greater than last year's by over 100.  

 

Conference attendance is also up.  Over 57% of the membership attended the 2005 conference and a whopping 68% of the membership were at the 2006 conference.  And although each conference has had a large number of first time participants, the majority who attend are repeat attendees, indicating satisfaction with the current structure.  Conference income shows a steady increase, and our treasury is flush. Simply put, CRLA is flourishing!  

 

Those advocating a name change that will eliminate reading need to re-examine the facts.  In looking at the Overview of Conference Strands from the last two conferences, we can see the importance of reading to the members of CRLA.  More concurrent presentations are in the Reading Theory Strand than in any of the other strands.  And the largest SIG is the College Reading SIG.  Furthermore, with half of the articles in the most recent issues of The Journal of College Reading and Learning relating to reading, and the other half relating to learning, it's clear that our professional journal reflects both the name of the organization and the interests of its members and readership. 

 

We've presented facts and stats, but CRLA is much more than numbers.  Those of us who regularly attend the annual conferences know that we can expect something special.  We are noted for our warm welcomes and terrific array of presentations.  Despite our focus on reading and learning - or perhaps because of it - we attract colleagues from other disciplines such as nursing, math, athletic administration and counseling who have joined CRLA and attended our conferences to talk to reading and learning professionals and learn more about our field.  The size of our conference works for us.  We're big enough to offer a plethora of interesting and varied presentations but small enough to keep our legendary CRLA hospitality alive.  

 

A few members have voiced concerns that "Reading" in the name of our organization has made it difficult or impossible for those in disciplines other than reading or learning assistance to attend our conferences and has made this a reason to eliminate reading from the name.  They neglect to consider, however, what could happen to the hundreds of reading professionals should a name change occur.  Instead of a few individuals from other disciplines faced with convincing their supervisors that a CRLA conference would be of benefit, many reading professionals could find themselves trying to justify attendance at a conference sponsored by an organization that actually eliminated reading from its name!  It would be infinitely easier for CRLA to issue a letter explaining the value of attending a CRLA conference for a math professional than it would be to explain why a reading professional should attend a conference of an organization that eliminated reading from its name.

 

We fear that, should a name change occur, it would be the start of the end of our organization.  We would lose our identity in a foolish attempt to become all things to all people.  In the field of developmental education, an organization already exists that encompasses all aspects of this field.  It is a fine organization, but it's not CRLA.  The College READING and Learning Association is healthy, vibrant and, most important, special to those of us in the fields of reading and learning assistance.  There is no reason to change our name or our beloved organization.  It ain't broke!

 

Kathi Bartle-Angus

JoAnn Carter-Wells

Joe Cortina

Tom Dayton

JoAnne Greenbaum

Patricia Grega

Pat Jonason

Lonna Smith

 

PLEASE NOTE:  In addition to sending this position paper via email, copies will be printed and distributed at the 2007 Conference in Portland.  If you are a member of CRLA, and if you agree with this position paper, you are urged to email Lonna Smith at [log in to unmask] to request that your name be included on a list of supporters that will be attached to the position paper.  Your name will then be listed below the following statement:

 

The following members endorse the ideas expressed in this document:

 

 

 

 

 

 

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