Monday, July 13, 2015

A Much Needed Victory for School Libraries: Senate Bill 1177

Every parent, student and teacher should be outraged if their school does not have a library.  Instead, there is a sense of  inevitability about the situation.  Well, we  all knew it was going to happen sooner or later, right?   That shouldn't be the case.   Unless people prefer WebMd to getting their medical diagnosis over getting the right information from a doctor.   Then by all means accept the inevitable and be prepared for a dumbed down school program.  A bit dramatic?  Perhaps but none the less true.

Studies after studies have proven that schools who have an established library program to assist students in their academic endeavors excel in their educational goals.  Students read more.  Comprehend their assignments easily and have better critical thinking skills then their peers who have no to libraries.   With so many studies making the critical case that libraries are needed then why are so many schools opting out of the library programs?   Why are there so many school librarians reassigned to the classrooms as aides?   It's mind blowing.  Yet there is a small glimmer of hope for school libraries and the students who need them.

On  July 8 the US Senate unanimously passed legislation  (Senate Bill 1177) to amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act/NCLB to include support for school library programs.    School districts are authorized to develop effective programs using certified school librarians at its core.   This is important because it is the first step in recognizing what the studies have been showing all along.  Librarians and libraries are valuable tools to have at students' disposal as they grow and learn.    It goes without saying that a huge applaud and pat on the back is due to the two senators who cosponsored the amendment Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Thad Cochran (R-MS) .

While this is a huge leap in the right directions for schools and their libraries, there is still much to do to reclaim this vanishing education gem before they are all gone.  Quite frankly, it is imperative that anyone who has a stake in the education of children  should speak up and ask Congress to follow the Senate's lead.   This means that parents, grandparents, teachers, administrators and even students themselves should contact their local Congressional representative to ask for their support.  Consider this, if children are failing in schools, the community fails as well.   School libraries are important to the educational growth of each child.  To say that it weakens the educational outcomes is not an exaggeration, it's a fact.

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