Maine was well represented at its ESSA training on November 5, 2016. Over 50 school librarians attended the highly publicized and hugely successful event at Falmouth Middle School in Falmouth, ME. This was the largest AASL ESSA training in New England! For many school librarians, it was the first time they heard about the intricacies of the law and how their programs are recognized in the Every Student Succeeds Act.
The Maine Association of School Librarians worked diligently to get the word out across Maine and advocate for the inclusion of their role in the state plan. Representatives from the Maine Department of Education and the Maine State Library were also in attendance and encouraged librarians to be a strong voice in the planning process. Librarians were told “If you don’t show up, no one is going to come find you.”
During my presentation, I repeatedly told attendees that ESSA is all about equity–equity of access, equity of resources, equity of meeting and supporting students where they are. The state of Maine is beginning to develop its plan and is looking at other states’ draft plans that have been released. However, most of the state draft plans do not reference the words library, libraries, or librarians. We want a variety of library references in Maine’s plan that reflect how our strong school library programs support teaching and learning and impact student achievement. MASL President Tina Taggart agreed: “School libraries are way too important, and we must have a presence at the table when the state develops its plan.”
The daylong workshop included an overview of ESSA and presentations. Also, Janet McKenney, Director of Library Development, gave an update from the Maine State Library. She shared resources the State Library would be acquiring and talked about the restructuring of the Northern, Central, and Southern Maine Library Districts. The new plan would allow for a broader reach to Maine’s Public Libraries and reach more patrons with services.
The workshop also highlighted several AASL resources such as AASL’s position statements. AASL‘s Executive Director Sylvia Norton noted Maine’s Department of Education resources that could help in planning and identified areas ESSA connects to school libraries. Norton encouraged each attendee to get involved, talk with legislators, and share the great stories with a variety of stakeholders now as the development of Maine’s ESSA state plan gets underway.
After lunch, there were a variety of sessions offered for attendees. Future Ready Librarians, iBook Author, Gale eBook Reference library, EdCamp and Breakout EDU were a few of the many options provided for Professional Learning.
MASL Board Member and training attendee, Jennifer Stanbro said, “The message I came away with was that I need to make sure my administration knows how they can use federal funds to help the school library program provide personalized and rigorous learning experiences for all students.”