Can you believe how fast time is moving? And although many of us are working on wrapping up our semester and heading into summer, we also need to stay informed about the school library provisions in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and provide feedback when needed.
So what has happened lately and what can you do to help?
- My mom raised me to believe in the importance of showing appreciation; it gives those who receive it a greater sense of satisfaction and willingness to help in the future. Send a thank-you e-mail to your legislators for including school libraries in ESSA. AASL’s hard-working AASL Legislative Committee prepared a sample thank-you letter. Due to the delay in federal mail for safety screenings, I encourage you to send your message via e-mail instead of traditional mail. You can find your representative here and your senator here.
- On May 2, during National Library Legislation Day, AASL leadership met with the Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, Monique Chism regarding ESSA and school libraries and our role in college, career, and community readiness. As part of this engagement, Dr. Chism has agreed to host “listening sessions’’ specifically for school libraries and ESSA. The first listening session is scheduled for Friday, June 3, with a line-up of AASL leaders set to speak with Dr. Chism. During the session, a group of invited AASL leaders will talk about recent school library research, how an effective school library program helps prepare students for college, career, and community, and how school librarians contribute to more effective teachers by integrating technology into the curriculum. We are also preparing a few questions to share in advance with Dr. Chism for her to answer. Do you have ideas for questions? Please e-mail me your questions.
- Over the past month, the ALA Washington Office has also participated in Department of Education ESSA “listening sessions” on behalf of AASL and school libraries. The ALA Washington Office will continue to engage in these sessions moving forward. As part of this engagement and transparency, the U.S. Department of Education has clarified that they are interested in library-specific, general, and real-world examples on the following education topics, which they plan to define: Digital Learning, Personalized Learning, Blended Learning, Openly Licensed Educational Resources, and Well-Rounded Education. Please help us advocate for school libraries by providing very brief examples of one, some, or all of the ESSA education vocabulary via this online form. Time is critical, so please provide feedback before May 31.
- AASL has three groups working on five position papers related to supporting your work at the federal, state, and local level. As we looked at ESSA as far back as January, we found three position statements related to ESSA that could be more effective if revised (Appropriate Staffing, Preparation of School Librarians, Role of the School Librarian). A task force was established to update those statements in light of ESSA. Another task force is working on a position paper to define an “effective school library” for ESSA. And, finally, due to an Affiliate Assembly concern, the AASL Technology Role Working Group was created. Part of their work was to review the “Instructional Classification Position Statement.” Based on the group’s findings and with the authorization of ESSA, this position statement is also being updated. Once all the committees have completed their work, the five statements will be reviewed for language alignment and messaging consistency, then brought to the AASL Board of Directors for review. Until then, all of the current AASL Position Statements can be found on AASL’s website.
- Throughout the unpacking process, the U.S. Department of Education will request feedback and input for specific areas of ESSA to inform rulemaking and guidance for implementation. As these opportunities arise, AASL will request school library input. Our Title I response letter can be found on the AASL website. This week there is an opportunity for input regarding non-regulatory guidance, and we are preparing a response that will include a request for language on what makes an effective school library and information related to the role school librarians play in student digital literacy skills instruction, student academic achievement, teacher professional development, staff technology training, personalized learning experiences, and youth education and equity issues.
- Stay informed. I encourage you to subscribe to e-mail updates to the KQ website if you haven’t already, as it is AASL’s primary tool for reaching out and keeping our school library community and school library advocates informed as to updates, news, models, advice, and requests for input. The “Subscribe via Email” box is located on the homepage at the bottom of the right column.
Any time you are seeking information, go to AASL’s ESSA landing page, where school library ESSA resources can be found. There you will find links to everything available to-date.