An open letter to the Los Angeles Unified School District on the defunding of school librarians

For Immediate Release
Wed, 05/18/2011

Contact:

Marci Merola

To Dr. John Deasy, Superintendent;  Dr. Judy Elliott, Chief Academic Officer;  Ms. Monica Garcia, Board President; and all members of the Board of the Los Angeles Unified School District:

The American Library Association (ALA) and the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) are deeply concerned that the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is considering defunding its school librarian  positions (or “teacher librarian” positions, as they are known in California) from its schools. If the elimination moves forward, only 32 of approximately 700 schools will have full-time school librarians and only 10 will have part-time school librarians. This means that approximately 600,000 students will be deprived of one of the most valuable educational resources needed for students to compete in today’s 21st century workforce – a school librarian

LAUSD must not ignore the countless studies that demonstrate that students in schools with strong school library programs learn more, get better grades, and score higher on standardized tests. The elimination of school librarians means the District is losing invaluable teachers whose educational specialty is empowering students with life-long, independent learning skills.

School librarians offer students much more than just access to books. They serve as a vital component of the education teams found in today’s schools. School librarians teach students how to use the Internet, conduct independent study and research, and nurture a love for reading. The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards recognizes them as teachers, and their efforts can be measured to meet standards for professional teaching excellence. 

Educators depend on school librarians to assist with keeping pace with the academic needs of 21st century students. Classroom teachers and school librarians collaborate to build learning skills into the curriculum, which then allows students to learn more effectively. From book selections to addressing the advancement in technologies and information gathering, school librarians teach students to use information legally and ethically.

In an era filled with tweets, YouTube videos, and Facebook, students often believe that information found online is true.  It's not enough for children to know how to read – they must be able to select, evaluate, and use information appropriately and effectively. Too often students lack the ability to analyze the information found online and are left guessing what Web content can be trusted.  School librarians provide access to the tools and resources necessary to gain these 21st century learning skills.

Can Los Angeles afford to leave its students behind? The elimination of these positions will have a devastating effect on the educational prospects and success of the District’s students. A good school library is not an option – it is essential to a good education.  We urge you to reconsider your decision.   

 

Regards,

Roberta Stevens                            
President                                                                        
American Library Association                             

Nancy Everhart
President
American Association of School Librarians