FAQ

  1. How are school librarians currently classified?

  2. Who sets the classification categories?

  3. When was the classification structure last updated?

  4. Why does it matter now?

  5. How is the Instruction category defined by NCES?

  6. Why should school librarians be classified as instructional?

  7. What is ALA doing about classification of school librarians?

  8. What is AASL doing about classification of school librarians?

  9. What can my state affiliate do to change the classification of school librarians?

  10. With whom should my affiliate collaborate to secure this change?


1. How are school librarians currently classified?   

Library/Media Services are categorized under the broad area Support Services, specifically Support Services—Instruction. The specific description is:

2220 Library/Media Services.
Activities concerned with directing, managing, and supervising educational media services (e.g., supervisory personnel) as well as such activities as selecting, acquiring, preparing, cataloging, and circulating books and other printed materials; planning for the use of the library by students, teachers, and other members of the instructional staff; and guiding individuals in their use of library books, reference guides and materials, catalog materials, special collections, and other materials, whether maintained separately or as a part of an instructional materials center. These activities include developing and acquiring library materials and operating library facilities. Textbooks are not charged to this function but rather to the instruction function. (Used with all programs 100-900)

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2. Who sets the classification categories?   

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

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3. When was the classification structure last updated?   

NCES worked out a classification of expenditures into various functions in 1980. These classifications were drafted in consultation with state education agency representatives, education researchers, and accountants. The instruction function (1000) was defined as all expenditures directly related to the instruction of students, which is further defined as the interaction between students and teachers. Other functions directly related to supporting student instruction were grouped into two support services functions: student support services and instructional support services. Librarians and activities related to libraries and media centers were classified as instructional support. Other activities related to public education such as administration, student transportation, food services, facilities, etc. each have their own function classification.

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4. Why does it matter now?   

An initiative called "the 65% solution" is taking the country by storm. The solution is to spend 65% of the education budget on the classroom. However, the definition of what a classroom expense IS, is defined by NCES, and school library media expenses are not included. Most people have no idea where the definitions originate or even what the definitions are. In states where the 65% solution passes through the state legislature, however, this "solution" has the power to under-fund and possibly eliminate some school library media programs.

The following quotes are from the website:

It's a simple, intuitive and responsible solution:

  • Change the law in all 50 States and the District of Columbia by the end of 2008.
  • Require every Schools District to spend at least 65% of their education operational budgets in the classroom for Teachers & Kids.
  • Keep local control of education, but demand statewide accountability.

"America's children will enjoy a first class economy in their future only if we ensure every student an opportunity for a first class education in their immediate present."

"If we want a first class education, we must change our educational priorities to first, class education."

"In the Classroom education includes most anything that directly impacts the child … whether teaching a child to read a book, read Braille, read music or read a football defensive pass pattern."

"Classroom education is the only activity that can possibly increase test scores and dynamically impact our students."

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5. How is the Instruction category defined by NCES?   

1000*Instruction

Instruction includes the activities dealing directly with the interaction between teachers and students. Teaching may be provided for students in a school classroom, in another location such as a home or hospital, and in other learning situations such as those involving cocurricular activities. It may also be provided through some other approved medium, such as television, radio, computer, Internet, multimedia telephone, and correspondence, that is delivered inside or outside the classroom or in other teacher-student settings. Included here are the activities of aides or classroom assistants of any type (clerks, graders, teaching machines, etc.) who assist in the instructional process. If proration of expenditures is not possible for department chairpersons who also teach, include department chairpersons who also teach in instruction. Full-time department chairpersons expenditures should be included only in 2490. (Used with all programs 100-900)

Sports and activities like prom are considered an instructional expense. Aides and classroom assistants are an instructional expense, but library media specialists and all the resources they provide are not.

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6. Why should school librarians be classified as instructional?   

The role of the school library media specialist has changed radically since 1980. Library media specialists are instructional staff and school libraries are “classrooms.” Library media specialists teach students as well teachers about topics as diverse as copyright, plagiarism, taking useful notes, topic selection, evaluating web sites, citing sources, research skills, information literacy, technology skills of all kinds, and audiovisual operation and production to name a few. School library media centers provide access to books and technology for EVERY student in an efficient, cost-effective manner.

Research demonstrates the effectiveness of good school libraries on student learning. Refer to the School Library Impact Studies on the website of the Library Research Service for specific studies from sixteen states as well as a wealth of support information.

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7. What is ALA doing about classification of school librarians?   

At the 2006 Midwinter meeting, the ALA Council unanimously passed a resolution regarding the instructional classification of school librarians. The resolution calls for a "coordinated national effort to classify school librarians as instructional staff and to recognize the impact of state-certified school librarians on student achievement."

The resolution specifically calls for the ALA leadership to send letters to governors, congresspersons, and chief state education officers urging them to consider instructional support services in their definition of “in the classroom” spending. NCES and U. S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings will also receive letters from ALA President Michael Gorman that stress the important relationship between staff classification and funding. Finally, the lobbying arm of ALA will request that NCES issue an interpretation that recognizes the teaching role of school librarians and includes librarian salaries and library resources as essential additional components of "Instruction Expenditures.”

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8. What is AASL doing about classification of school librarians?   

AASL has been instrumental in convincing ALA that the classification of school librarians is an important, even vital, concern for all librarians. A group of concerned AASL members drafted the resolution accepted by ALA Council. AASL appointed a Task Force on Instructional Classification to write the position statement on the subject, and put together a toolkit. The AASL leadership and ALA Washington Office staff met with representatives from NCES and the Department of Education in early May 2006 to begin a dialogue about changing the current classification of library media specialists.

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9. What can my state affiliate do to change the classification of school librarians?   

State affiliates can work with their departments of education and teachers' unions to lobby for a change in the classification of school librarians in their state. Find out who in your state establishes the classifications used by school district financial officers when reporting their expenditures. For example, state auditors general or other policy-making officials are responsible for determining the classification of teachers, librarians, counselors, nurses, and other school personnel. Educate those officials as well as the public with regard to the teaching responsibilities of 21st-century school library media specialists. Affiliates can organize letter writing campaigns, write letters to the editor, and/or op-ed pieces that specify the role of school librarians in student achievement and lifelong learning.

The Texas Library Association and the Texas Association of School Librarians provide a successful model in advocating for library media specialists and library services to be included in the instructional definition after Texas Governor Rick Perry issued an executive order mandating that 65% of education dollars be spent on instruction.

Despite the NCES classification, Texas persuaded their legislators to include library media specialists and library services as instructional costs. Refer to the Texas Association of School Librarians legislative page. Texas librarians were aware of state legislation and involved from the beginning. They urged library supporters to contact their senators and representatives to restore language "that specifies that direct instruction costs includes the district's expenses related to instruction and instructional resources and media services, as had been proposed in committee drafts of the bill." They informed their membership of who the co-chairs of the conference committee were, how to contact their representatives, and they were given contact information for the Speaker of the House, the Lt. Governor, and the Governor.

Texas librarians, and their supporters, were informed about the issue from the very beginning, were constantly updated on the issue via their web page, and kept hitting the issue with their legislators. As a result, they were successful and school library media specialists were included in the instructional definition.

Finally, Texas librarians remembered to say thank you to their supporters, providing contact information for the key people who went to bat for them.

Texas Library Association's Call to Action urging senators to include libraries in instructional costs can be found online. Texas's Talking Points can also be found online.

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10. With whom should my affiliate collaborate to secure this change?   

Build partnerships with your local NEA affiliate and develop a list of contacts in your state and make sure they are informed about this issue. They include the state library, the state department of education, legislators, state curriculum and instruction organizations, parent organizations, reading organizations, administrators, and media outlets.