On Sep. 24, school librarians and educational stakeholders in Georgia, Illinois, and Indiana attended workshops dedicated to unpacking the provisions for school libraries in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Presented by the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) in collaboration with the ALA Office for Library Advocacy and the ALA Washington Office, the complimentary workshops are part of an outreach effort to AASL state affiliates to highlight opportunities within ESSA language for school librarians and school libraries to be addressed in state and local plans. AASL estimates the ESSA workshops will reach 1,500 stakeholders nation-wide.
“Indiana’s school librarians are excited to share the message of how the modern school library improves student, teacher and school success,” said Michelle Houser, Association of Indiana School Library Educators (AISLE) president. “We appreciate using the workshop to discuss how each school district may include school libraries in a plan that matches local needs. We worked together on ways to help potential champions who may not understand the importance of an effective school library.”
“It’s important for our members, and all Illinois school librarians, to be fully informed about ESSA and its implications for school libraries,” said Patti Fleser, Illinois School Library Media Association president. “Partnering with AASL in these workshops allowed us to inform even more of our membership about ESSA. As the Illinois School Board of Education moves forward with implementation, our members can speak to the Illinois State Board of Education, their school and district administrators and others in their community about how School Librarians Ensure Student Success.
“The ESSA session empowered the Georgia Library Media Association’s (GLMA) members and partners to effectively communicate the importance of maintaining and funding school library programs and certified school librarians,” said Michelle Easley, GLMA president. “As a result of the session, we crafted effective messages and developed a strategy for communicating the immense value of Georgia’s school library programs to corporate partners, parents and community organizations, stakeholders, celebrities and elected officials. The AASL’s ESSA session is very instrumental in helping to secure the future of school library programs.”
The workshops include the most current information on developments at the Federal level and work through the titles in ESSA that can be directly linked to the school librarian and school library program. A portion of the workshop includes a discussion on current state work with recommendations for opportunities at state and local levels to ensure the ‘effective school library program’ language in ESSA.
While content in the workshops is directly related to ESSA, the tools and hands-on small group work can also be used as general advocacy for positioning school librarians as leaders in teaching and learning. The workshops are made possible through matching funds provided by Follett School Solutions. A growing list of participating state school library associations can be found at essa.aasl.org.