Recently I was alerted to the omission of school librarians as “Quality Educators” in a document regarding the reauthorization of ESEA published by the National Education Association (NEA):
NEA is calling for the next version of ESEA to include an “Opportunity Dashboard.” The dashboard is comprised of a range of school quality indicators, which will allow leaders to quantify and track the things that really matter when it comes to student success.
The document then defines “Quality Educators” as such: fully qualified teachers, including board certified teachers; qualified paraprofessionals; and specialized instructional support personnel (school counselors, social workers, nurses, psychologists).
I am disheartened by this.
There are over 20 state studies that correlate high student achievement with school libraries staffed with state certified school librarians. I, myself, am a member of NEA. When concerned AASL members reached out to NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia. She reassuringly responded that the “equity indicator” would reflect which students have access to instructional support personnel – a school health service staff (nurses and school psychologists), social works, and tutors. Professional librarians and support staff, while not specifically indicated, would fall under this category.
Failure to classify school librarians as instructional staff and to recognize the impact of state-certified school librarians on student achievement will result in a critical loss of funding for library positions and resources and a dangerous deterioration of library services for our nation’s children. School librarians have experienced, and are experiencing this. In No Child Left Behind, school librarians did not make the highly qualified list even though the school librarian certification requires a Master’s degree in most states. The result was the elimination of school librarians and school library program resources by financially stressed school districts.
It is critical that all AASL members who are also NEA members contact your local NEA affiliate and state officials and request them to add school librarians to the list of “Quality Educators.” School librarians must be specifically included in the “Opportunity Dashboard” document. We need to be heard loud and clear that we are vital to student achievement.
I have composed an official letter and AASL Executive Director Sylvia Norton and I will be meeting with NEA this week in Washington, DC. When I meet with them on Tuesday, I would love to be able to say that thousands of school librarians have expressed concern. If you have teachers in your building that you can count on and who count on you, please ask them to call, email or tweet. (Sample tweets provided below.) Please share this blog post widely. We need to reach as many people as possible.
Multiple research studies show a clear link between school libraries & increased student achievement. http://bit.ly/1GMKht1 @lily_NEA @NEAToday
@NBPTS recognizes school librarians as teachers who can be measured to meet standards for prof teaching excellence. @lily_NEA @NEAToday
School librarians collaborate with classroom teachers as instructional partners. http://bit.ly/1GMOw7N @lily_NEA @NEAToday
School librarians are teachers & crucial partners in ensuring #CCSS requirements are met. @lily_NEA @NEAToday
Classifying school librarians as support staff will cause a deterioration of library services for our nation’s children. @lily_NEA @NEAToday
School librarians are teachers & transform learning! Please include in the Opportunity Dashboard! http://bit.ly/1GMLMaD @lily_NEA @NEAToday
Author: Terri Grief