The “Gold Standard,” School Libraries, and ESSA

Today AASL engaged in an experience the likes of which we’ve never seen in the school library profession. Today, Dr. Monique Chism, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, dedicated one hour of her busy schedule to participate in a conference call “listening session” devoted to ESSA, school libraries, and school librarians.

So how did we get to this moment?

On May 3, during National Library Legislative Day (NLLD) in Washington, DC, AASL and YALSA leadership met with Dr. Chism to discuss school librarians and the Every Student Succeeds Act. The conversation was very informative and valuable for all parties. We discussed school librarians, “effective school library programs,” educational equity, and the impact an effective school library and librarian has on students’ college, career, and community readiness.

The conversation was enlightening for all involved and initiated an interest in furthering the conversation. Although AASL is 7,000 strong, in the broader world of national organizations, we’re mighty, but not large. So it was quite momentous when Dr. Chism agreed to what the U.S. Department of Education is calling “listening sessions.”

During the listening session we had speakers and listeners taking comprehensive notes, and Tweeters using the hashtag #essalibraries for a live feed of the discussion. Nine AASL members representing the various regions and school environments spoke on the following topics: school librarian impact on effective teaching, technology integration, staff development and teacher training, preparing students for college and career, digital literacy, new technology training for teachers, developing curriculum, coding, and student data privacy. There were many powerful moments during the conversation, including when Dr. Chism asked about equity and access–how do school librarians help bridge that gap? Do take a moment after reading this to share your own real-world answers, experiences, and research to this question in the comments below.

As our conversation with Dr. Chism wrapped up, she noted that AASL had set a new “gold standard for listening sessions.” She expressed an appreciation for the diverse topics we brought forward and the broad regional representation of the attendees. We found our time together informative, constructive, and enlightening. AASL thanks Dr. Chism for her time and welcomes opportunities for future engagement and conversation.

I thank all our participants on the call for their time and dedication to this effort. We are a profession of educational leaders dedicated to our field and the young people we hold dear, our students. It is your ongoing energy and effort that help make a difference in your local communities and in the good of our country.

Call participants: Dr. Monique Chism, Jay Bansbach, Audrey Church, Lori Donovan, Dorcas Hand, Pam Harland, Robert Hilliker, Sarah Hill, Melissa Jacobs, Kathryn Lewis, Robbie Nickel, Sylvia Norton, Devona Pendergrass, Leslie Preddy, Craig Seasholes, Emily Sheketoff, Katie Williams, Steven Yates


Author: Leslie Preddy, Leadership Development Committee Chair and 2016-2017 AASL Past President

Categories: Association News, Community, News, Presidential Musings


2 replies

  1. So proud of all of you for representing school libraries so well! Thank you for all you for our profession.

  2. Yes, the educators on the call on behalf of AASL and school libraries represented us in a very dynamic, informative, and engaging manner. Dr. Chism definitely walked away from this call well-informed about what a school librarian does in today’s educational landscape and the varied dynamics of an effective school library program with a certified school librarian at the helm.

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