DCPS Needs School Librarians - Pass Students' Right to Read Amendment
We have been supporting school library stakeholders across DC Public Schools in their campaign to see stable and permanent funding for their positions in the budget. It's time for the City Council to pass the Students' Right to Read Amendment and fully fund these positions. EveryLibrary is giving testimony for the fourth time this week to City Council to encourage them to include school librarians in the regular budget.
Our written testimony on October 25, 2022 follows another powerful "silent rally" by school librarians, educational activists, parents, and members of the City Council this weekend. The steps leading up to DCPS headquarters were filled with school library stakeholders who wanted to highlight the urgency of this legislation. With proper funding, every school in DC will have a certified school librarian. Without this budget Amendment, individual school librarians can be 'excessed' by their principals. And if a school doesn't have a school librarian, it doesn't have a real library program.
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The rally was organized by an extraordinary team of school librarians and was sponsored by Washington Teachers Union Local 6, the District of Columbia Library Association (DCLA), and EveryLibrary working in coalition for the future of school librarianship in DC. It is well past time for the Council to pass the Students' Right to Read Amendment. You can be a part of this important campaign by sending a message to the City Council today.
Testimony to DC City Council
Council of the District of Columbia
Committee of the Whole
Teacher and Principal Turnover & Retention in the District
October 25, 2022
Chairman Mendelson and Members of the City Council:
The EveryLibrary Institute is a national public policy and education policy think tank for libraries. Our network includes thousands of school library and public library stakeholders, some with a particular interest in DC Public Schools. As an organization, we have an ongoing interest in supporting the future of effective school library programs in DC Public Schools as well as seeing a school librarian at work in each and every school in the District of Columbia. This is the fourth time we have submitted testimony on the need for stable funding for school librarians across DCPS and we appreciate your attention to these matters.
The lack of stable funding for school librarian positions needs to be addressed in this session by passing the Students’ Right to Read Amendment. Without proper dedicated funding, individual school librarians can be “excessed” in order to balance local school budgets. When a principal cuts a school librarian, the entire school library program is eliminated. Effective school library programs need a qualified school librarian on staff to support learning and instruction. It is important to note that DCPS policy on “excess” positions is not intended to be used as a formal reduction in force (RIF) or to be used to abolish positions or programs. Passing the Students’ Right to Read Amendment will support student achievement and address these unintended consequences in an appropriate way.
Earlier this year, the EveryLibrary Institute published a research paper by Nijma Esad, a DCPS middle school librarian, called “Could School Librarians Be the Secret to Increasing Literacy Scores?” Ms. Esad’s independent research across DCPS showed a strong connection between student access to librarians and gains in the literacy-based component of standardized tests. We hope that Council can provide a permanent funding solution so that every DCPS school has its librarian while ensuring that every dollar intended to create and support effective school library programs goes to the professionals who know how to use it best.
DC Public Schools have received tremendous positive attention from the education and library sectors for the decision that the City Council made during the pandemic to fund a school librarian position in nearly every school. Our companion organization EveryLibrary has helped nearly 3,000 residents of the District send you messages and petitions to fix the funding formula by passing the Students’ Right to Read Amendment. This investment in the permanent learning and literacy infrastructure across DCPS will continue to pay dividends in learning, student achievement, and family success.
We appreciate Councilmember Allen for introducing this legislation and the eight members of the Council who have joined him as co-sponsors. Your names have been on this pending legislation for too long. It is time for the remainder of the Council to consider the key impacts of school librarians on students and the future of education across DCPS and join you in advancing this legislation today.