On Sep. 17, more than seventy school librarians and educational stakeholders in Delaware, Massachusetts and Michigan 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.
“Every student in every school, regardless of geographical location, deserves a strong school library program staffed by a certified school librarian,” said Cathy Collins, chair of the Massachusetts School Library Association (MSLA) advocacy committee. “ESSA gives us a seat at the table and an opportunity to strengthen our current programming efforts and resources. The AASL workshops are critical in helping us identify stakeholders, build coalitions, and develop action plans to secure our fair share of the pie. The MSLA workshop gave me a renewed sense of hope that we might yet restore and revitalize our school library programs to provide the equitable access to school library resources and school library staffing that every student in this country deserves.”
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.
“The Michigan Association for Media in Education (MAME) led by our Advocacy Chair, Kathy Lester, has been participating in state level committees to insure that Michigan implements ESSA provisions that support school library programs,” said MAME President Lisa Brakel. “Having AASL and ALA personnel travel to Michigan to work with our members and fellow supporters of school libraries was a valuable opportunity. Their presentation helped everyone understand the history and content of ESSA providing helpful information that can be utilized as we continue our advocacy efforts.”
“The Delaware Association of School Librarians (DASL) is passionate about ensuring the success of school libraries,” said DASL President Rachel West. “DASL was excited to participate in the workshop and learn about how to integrate the role of the school librarian with ESSA implementation in our state. We look forward to putting what we learned to action in conversations with the State Board of Education as well as on the district and building level.”
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.
Author: Jen Habley
Jen Habley is the AASL Manger of Web Communications. She manages the AASL websites, writes press releases, coordinates AASL’s online learning opportunities, and oversees AASL’s web 2.0 tools. When not working, Jen spends time researching her family tree, reading, and watching hockey.