AASL’s ESEA Advocacy Efforts Being Heard

AASL’s advocacy efforts to include school library provisions in ESEA reauthorization are being heard, as evidenced by the following articles.


Education Businesses, Associations Want School Library Funding Increased

By Michele Molnar on March 20, 2015 7:37 AM

A coalition of more than 20 education businesses, associations and media groups are calling on the U.S. Congress to support dedicated school library funding in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which provides federal funding for national K-12 education programs.

The coalition, which includes Scholastic Inc., EBSCO Information Services, Inc., and the Association of American Publishers, is asking Congress to expand federal investment in school libraries. Specifically, the coalition wants the Strengthening Kids’ Interest in Learning and Libraries Act, which was introduced in January by Sens. Thad Cochran, R-Miss. and Jack Reed, D-R.I., to be folded into ESEA reauthorization.

To that end, a jointly signed letter was sent on March 16 to Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., who chairs the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the committee’s ranking member. My colleague Lauren Camera reports that senators are making progress in negotiations on the NCLB rewrite, with plans to consider the bill in committee during the week of April 13. It’s unclear, however, if the NCLB rewrite will be signed by President Barack Obama this year.

Coalition members include Baker & Taylor, OverDrive, Booklist Publications, Bound to Stay Bound Books, DEMCO Inc. and the Junior Library Guild, among others.

The coalition is asking for:

  • Up-to-date books, materials, equipment and technology (including broadband);
  • The development of information, digital and research literacy;
  • Professional development for acquisition of digital literacy skills and literacy instruction appropriate for all ages;
  • Activities that foster increased collaboration among school librarians, teachers, and administrators, and
  • Providing students access to school libraries during non-school hours.

“This is not new. This is a continuation of the ESEA from 1965,” said Emily Sheketoff, executive director of the American Library Association Washington Office, in a phone interview. While the authorization for a school library budget has been there, since 2010 the funding has not. Before that, “the appropriated amount hovered around $30 million,” she said.

“For our society and our economy to succeed, schools must serve as equalizers that provide all students with access to the resources and instruction they need to thrive academically and to become productive and engaged citizens,” coalition members wrote in their letter. “That goal cannot be met without strong, professionally staffed school libraries. In too many schools across the nation, however, school library budgets and school librarian positions are being cut.”

That fact has been making its way into the news more frequently. Recently, Education Week covered the fact that the number of school libraries in New York City has plummeted from nearly 1,500 in 2005 to fewer than 700 in 2014, with the biggest drops occurring in the past three years. The Washington Post found that two-thirds of at-risk students are in schools with below-average book counts. The Post also reported that charter schools are less likely than traditional schools to have libraries.

Nationally, data available from the Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics indicate that about 8,830 public schools in the U.S. do not have a school library. Among those that do, nearly 17,000 schools lack a full- or part-time state-certified school librarian on staff, according to the American Library Association.

While the politicians are hashing out the reauthorization, best-selling author James Patterson recently announced that he is donating $1.25 million through a grant program. School libraries can seek donations of $1,000 to $10,000 each.


Scholastic, AAP Team Up On Library Funding

By Clare Swanson

Mar 19, 2015

A coalition of publishers and education and industry groups—including Scholastic and the Association of American Publishers―has called on the U.S. Congress to support the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which provides federal funding for national K-12 education programs.

Other organizations and companies participating in the joint effort include Baker & Taylor, OverDrive, Booklist Publications, Bound to Stay Bound Books, DEMCO Inc., ESCO Information Services, and the Junior Library Guild, among others.

Coalition leaders sent a joint letter to U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) chairman Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA). The coalition specifically asks Congress to incorporate the Strengthening Kids’ Interest in Learning and Libraries (SKILLS) Act in ESEA reauthorization, which would “expand federal investment in school libraries in order to offer students the tools they need to develop critical thinking, digital, and research skills,” according to a statement released by the American Library Association, who submitted the letter.

“We support the nation’s leading educational businesses and groups in calling for federal support for highly effective school library programs,” said Emily Sheketoff, executive director of the ALA Washington office. “It is time that Congress recognized that students who have access to quality school libraries and supportive school librarians learn more, get better grades and score higher on standardized tests.”


Call to Increase Federal School Library Funding

In a move supported by Language Magazine, a coalition of more than 20 education businesses, associations, and media groups has called on the U.S. Congress to support dedicated school library funding in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

The coalition is specifically asking Congress to incorporate the Strengthening Kids’ Interest in Learning and Libraries (SKILLS) Act in ESEA reauthorization, which would expand federal investment in school libraries. Coalition leaders sent the joint letter to U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Chairman Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA).

“For our society and our economy to succeed, schools must serve as equalizers that provide all students with access to the resources and instruction they need to thrive academically and to become productive and engaged citizens,” coalition members wrote in a letter sent to Congress. “That goal cannot be met without strong, professionally staffed school libraries. In too many schools across the nation, however, school library budgets and school librarian positions are being cut. Including SKILLS in ESEA will meaningfully contribute to reversing that cripplingly counterproductive trend.”

Recent data available from the Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reveals that approximately 8,830 public schools across the nation do not have a school library and, among those that do, nearly 17,000 additional schools do not have a full or part-time state-certified school librarian on staff.

“We support the nation’s leading educational businesses and groups in calling for federal support for highly effective school library programs,” said Emily Sheketoff, executive director of the American Library Association (ALA) Washington Office. “It is time that Congress recognized that students who have access to quality school libraries and supportive school librarians learn more, get better grades and score higher on standardized tests.”

Author: Meg Featheringham, KQ Editor

Meg Featheringham is responsible for the development and production of the AASL journal, Knowledge Quest. When not working at AASL, Meg enjoys playing euchre, attending concerts and plays, spending time with family and friends, and reading (of course).



Categories: Association News, Community, Education News, ESSA Updates, News

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