When presentations wrapped in Nebraska and Alaska on Nov. 11, AASL completed a monumental task of facilitating 30 state-level Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) workshops in only 60 days. The workshops, presented in collaboration with the ALA Office for Library Advocacy and the ALA Washington Office, focused on highlighting opportunities within ESSA language for school librarians and school libraries to be addressed in state and local plans.
“I am thrilled beyond words that school libraries and school librarians are written into the language of the Every Student Succeeds Act,” said AASL President Audrey Church. “That said, AASL knows that decoding federal legislation can be daunting. With these workshops, AASL is providing school librarians and school library stakeholders with information and tools so they can be confident and vocal advocates. We want school librarians on state and local teams as they prepare their ESSA implementation plans.”
Customized to fit the needs of each state, the sessions walked participants through the titles in ESSA that can be directly linked to the school librarian and school library program. Attendees broke into small groups to identify stakeholders and potential coalitions, craft key messages and develop elevator speeches. With these take-aways, school librarians and other stakeholders left prepared to conduct strategic discussions and develop specific plans for inclusion in their state planning and implementation process.
“With a tight timeline to turn our talking points into policy recommendations, the ESSA workshop helped provide the information and advice needed for the Florida Association for Media in Education (FAME) to be proactive in advocating for inclusion of the provisions for effective school library programs in Florida’s ESSA implementation plan,” said Lucretia Miller, FAME immediate past president. “Attendees not only became knowledgeable on the provisions for school librarians in ESSA, but became empowered to advocate and be involved in this important process of making sure the authorized provisions become policy.”
Mobilizing to present these workshops were AASL members and leaders who shared their everyday knowledge of school library programs and school librarians. Said AASL Executive Director Sylvia Knight Norton, “The collaboration with the ALA Washington Office gave us legislative and policy expertise and the ALA Office of Library Advocacy provided tools for advocacy, but it was the AASL presidents, Board members, and other leaders who spoke with knowledge about the profession and a passion for teaching our students. This truly was a unique viewpoint and invaluable to workshop attendees.”
AASL estimates the ESSA workshops will reach 1,500 stakeholders nation-wide. Participating state school library associations along with tools and resources can be found at essa.aasl.org. The AASL ESSA workshops are made possible through matching funds provided by Follett School Solutions.
Manager, Web Communications
American Association of School Librarians (AASL)
Author: Jen Habley
Jen Habley is the AASL Manager 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.