Letter to the DC public school Chancellor
Library Media Specialists (librarians) are very concerned about the closure of librarian positions throughout the district. Right before DCPS closed due to the Covid-19 health crisis, I’ve personally learned that colleagues at Malcolm X, King, Stanton, Wheatley (the librarian just received a major book grant), and Dunbar High Schools were informed by their principals that their positions would close at the end of the school year. Our fear is that there will be more librarians added to the list of closures.
Currently, librarians are providing high levels of support during DCPS distance learning. In addition to identifying some of the best free apps for use, our librarians are also providing training/support for students/teachers/parents for the use of Microsoft Teams. I would also like to highlight, librarians who are part-time at two schools should be commended for their work in supporting their schools. (please note the work of the librarians at Simon/Houston and Noyes/Aiton elementary schools). These valuable skills librarians bring to the table must be recognized and applauded.
Support DC School Librarians by sending an email to the Chancellor here.
What would DCPS miss if the school library was removed from schools? Students view the library program as a place:
- where they can amplify their views, talent and creativity,
- Where race/gender/religion/economic background/sexual orientation is respected,
- where the withdrawn student who doesn’t ‘fit in’ with their classmates, finds friends who share common interests.
What would DCPS miss if the school librarian was removed from schools?
- Schools will no longer have access to Library Media Specialists essential skills/expertise that support literacy and technology integration,
- Schools would lack access to librarians who align and troubleshoot digital literacy content and teaching digital literacy citizenship,
- Schools would lack the schoolwide promotion of innovative reading programming and support for reluctant/struggling readers,
Here’s some examples of interesting DCPS library programming:
- At Bell, librarian Stewart has a library scholarship for graduating seniors and created a COVID-19 website for students.
- At Ron Brown, librarian Nero incorporates martial arts in his library and is developing E-Sports with his athletic director.
- At Watkins Elementary and Brookland Middle Schools, librarian Jurkowski and Guerrero’s Makerspace Labs are packed with innovative hands-on STEM and makey-makey activities.
- At Seaton Elementary, librarian Janka collaborates with the 4th grade team to bring the Sphero Math Cornerstone to special education self-contained classrooms, and general education students.
There are so many more examples that can be highlighted!
Librarians don’t ask, we just do. We identify areas within our buildings that need support and we jump in and provide assistance. We are often so busy working in our schools that we don’t ‘share out’ many of the things that we do/contribute to our schools through curricular support. Many of our librarians are credentialed beyond a Masters in Library Information Science and are recognized at the local and national levels for their expertise in the field.
My question to you today is that do you want DCPS to continue to lead among urban school districts in this country as one that is making academic gains in the area of reading and math? Do you want to continue the upward trajectory towards academic excellence for all of our students? School libraries and certified librarians are the key to successfully meeting those goals and providing equity in service.
DC School Libraries are the equalizer in education and the community. Not only do readers score higher on standardized tests, earn higher grades, and demonstrate more success in reading comprehension and writing, but they also grow up to become better citizens. Self-identified adult readers volunteer more in their communities and vote at higher rates. If kids love reading, they will read more. DC school children need and deserve a robust school library program staffed by a full-time certified librarian.
The Librarians of DCPS urge you to stop the closure of library positions and programming.
K.C. Boyd, M.A., M.Ed. & M.L.I.S.
Library Media Specialist
Jefferson Academy - SW