Support School Library Funding through ESSA
With passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), school library programs and school librarian positions are now part of federal education policy and law.
School librarians are on the front lines of librarianship. For many young minds they are the first contact with both librarians and libraries and provide the kinds of opportunities for imaginative exploration that libraries freely and democratically provide through their books, programs, and services. Children are allowed to explore literature and new ideas freely in school libraries while also developing a love of reading and strong skills in literacy that will help them throughout their life.
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With passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), school library programs and school librarian positions are now part of federal education policy and law. The new ‘authorizing language’ in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) restores these programs and positions in several Titles after being absent from No Child Left Behind for more than a decade. While there are budgetary priorities that need to be advocated for in Washington DC, there are many states that lack complementary definitions in state statute about school libraries and librarians, as well as many states and Local Education Agencies (LEA) that have not been in the habit of funding programs or positions because there was no compelling reason in the law to do so. We, the community of library supporters, now have a new chance to enact real reforms to state budgets and to the policies of LEAs to include funding for collections that support the curriculum and positions that are qualified to be partners in student achievement.
Our next step as a library community is to start working to get these appropriations to flow to school libraries again through lobbying Local Education Agencies. In order to do this, EveryLibrary is building a list of advocates who will be ready to act to support pro-school library legislative and rules changes. That is why we are asking that you please sign this petition to encourage Local Education Agencies to reinstate and fund school libraries with school librarians.
It is of the utmost urgency that we, the undersigned, implore you to fully fund school libraries and librarians as defined in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). We are asking that you take immediate steps to recognize that school libraries and librarians are essential to education and understand and enact the following provisions for school libraries and librarians as signed into law by President Barack Obama on December 10th, 2015;
- ESSA includes “School Librarians” in the definition of “specialized instructional support personnel.” (Title VIII)
- ESSA includes new provisions that authorize local plans to include a description of how the LEA will assist schools in developing effective school library programs to provide students an opportunity to develop digital literacy skills and improve academic achievement.
- (Title I)States are now authorized to use funds to support the instructional services provided by effective school library programs. (Title II, Part A)
- LEAs are authorized to use funds to support the instructional services provided by effective school library programs. (Title II, Part A)
- ESSA requires local grants that focus on children in K – 5 to provide high-quality professional development opportunities for specialized instructional support personnel, school librarians, paraprofessionals, and other program staff. (Title II, Part B, Subpart 2)
- ESSA requires local grants that focus on children in grades 6 – 12 to provide training for school librarians and other school district personnel to support, develop, administer, and evaluate high-quality comprehensive literacy instruction initiatives. (Title II, Part B, Subpart 2)
- ESSA authorizes all local grants for K-5 or 6-12 to provide time for literacy staff such as school librarians or specialized instructional support personnel to meet to plan comprehensive literacy instruction. (Title II, Part B, Subpart 2)
- Funds to develop and enhance effective school library programs are specifically authorized by ESSA. These may include providing professional development for school librarians, books, and up-to-date materials to high need schools. (Title II, Part B, Subpart 2, Section 2226)
- Libraries are defined as eligible entities with demonstrated expertise in historical methodology or the teaching of American history and civics. (Title II, Part B, Subpart 2, Section 2232)
- States are authorized to use funds to assist LEAs with identifying and addressing technology readiness needs, including Internet connectivity and access to school libraries. (Title IV, Part A )
- States are authorized to use funds to assist LEAs in providing school librarians and media personnel with the knowledge and skills to use technology effectively, including effective integration of technology, to improve instruction and student achievement. (Title IV, Part A )
- Grants, as in NCLB, can be used to support expanded library service hours. (Title IV, Part B)
(adapted fromALA’s analysis of ESSA)