Montana Retain Educational Excellence Coalition Launches
For the past several months, EveryLibrary has been supporting the Montana Library Association's effort to retain the ratio of school librarians to students through our Save School Librarian digital campaign platform. Now we are very proud to support the launch of the Retain Excellence in Education Coalition, an effort by MLA, the Montana Federation of Public Employees, and the school counselors association to make sure that school librarians, counselors, administrators, and superintendents are at work for every student.
This is the last and most critical phase of the campaign. The state Board of Public Education will make its final decision in mid-November. We need your help as a Montana education and school library stakeholder to make a Public Comment today to the BPE before November 4, 2022, asking that they retain the ratios. We are sharing a letter from MLA President Angela Archuleta about the situation. She's right in identifying this proposed change as unwise, unwelcome, and politically motivated. I hope you can take this important step. As says, "Your comment could make all the difference."
Sidney Sheldon, a prolific writer once said, “Libraries store the energy that fuels the imagination. They open up windows to the world and inspire us to explore and achieve, and contribute to improving our quality of life.” As a librarian and an educator, it is our mission to provide students with the best education that we can provide them, to promote their imagination, and we should go to great lengths to make that happen for every student. In the Army, one of the key sayings is “Mission first, people always.” Our mantra in education should be “excellence in education first, students always.”
How are we providing students with an excellent education when we are reducing librarians, counselors, school administrators, superintendents, and quality programming like electives? We know that literacy increases when a school employs a qualified librarian. In fact, it is stated in the Montana Every Student Succeeds Act Plan: “specific strategies for school improvement will be drawn from the OPI’s experience in providing direct technical assistance and support to schools and districts” including “implementing systemic literacy and math improvements through specialized instructional personnel, including a variety of educators as well as library media and digital literacy and math specialists.” Will we put more schools at risk for ending up on an ESSA plan because we lack one of the key elements in a school of excellence- a qualified librarian? Or any of the other items, that the Superintendent of Public Instructions has recommended to reduce or eliminate.
What is the impact, if we do not let the Board of Public Education know, that these changes are not good for our students or our state? We will kick the can down the road; we will potentially drive more people out of the profession of education. And, who does that impact? The very students that we, as educators, are entrusted to provide that excellent education for so that they will have the skills to lead this great nation forward. We owe Montana students a better solution. I plead with that you write the Board of Public Education, ask them to retain the number of required school librarians, counselors, administrators, and Superintendents. Do not allow them to rob our buildings of qualified librarians. Montana students deserve better. Tell them we need a centrally located library with access to all students.
The bottom line is we need teacher-librarians in our schools. We need to maintain these numbers if we want schools of excellence. The studies support how effective teacher-librarians are at increasing test scores and literacy in our schools. I implore you to make sure our voices are heard.
Angela F. Archuleta
Montana Library Association President
LTC, MT Army National Guard (Retired)
KW Vina Elementary,
Browning School District 9
Thanks for taking the time to read Angela's note and for making the important decision to tell the Board of Education what you think about retaining the ratios.