There is a literacy crisis in Michigan. In 2018, 56 percent of third-graders failed the Michigan state reading assessment test. In 2016, seven students in Detroit Public Schools went so far as to sue the Governor and the state over the lack of literacy services offered to them as students. Currently, only 8% of schools in Michigan have a full-time certified school librarian on staff. Michigan ranks 47th in the country for its ‘students to librarians’ ratio. MAME and EveryLibrary knows that school librarians are part of the solution.
The Michigan Association for Media in Education (MAME), the state association for school librarians, needs your help in passing three bills that would go a long way to restoring school librarians to each and every school in the state. Please join us in sending a message to the state House Education Committee to move HB 4392, HB 4393, and HB 4394 to the full House today because our students deserve access to their school libraries.
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Taken together, these three bills would restore the school library to its true status as the largest classroom in the school and return certified school librarians to their libraries. The three bills would do the following:
House Bill 4393: Requires every public school in Michigan to offer a library beginning in the 2019-20 school year that meets certain criteria. (Rep. Koleszar)
HB 4392: Requires a school district board to employ at least one certified media specialist for each school library operated by that district beginning in the 2018-19 school year. (Rep. Camilleri)
HB 4394: Requires a principal or other appropriate administrator to designate an individual to supervise students in a school library when a certified media specialist is not present. (Rep. Pagan)
State Representatives Darrin Camilleri, Matt Koleszar, and Kristy Pagan should be applauded for their leadership in fixing this fundamental problem facing Michigan students. Several statewide organizations like the Michigan Reading Association and the Michigan Academic Library Association are on record supporting these bills. Kathy Lester, MAME Advocacy Chair puts it best when she says: “Certified school library media specialists provide vital services to their students and school communities. They are integral to reading, technology integration, and information literacy and have a high impact on student achievement.”
Now it is up to everyone in the state who cares about the future of education and literacy to speak up in support of MAME and school librarians in Michigan.
At EveryLibrary, we stand with MAME in urging the state House Education Reform Committee to quickly take up these three bills and move them to the full House for a vote. The time to offer real solutions to address the literacy gap for Michigan’s students is now. Restoring school libraries to their full potential - and making sure they are properly staffed at all times - is a smart, actionable, and effective way to address these problems.