ALA, AASL provide support for high school librarians in Cleveland

Megan Cusick
Grassroots Specialist
mcusick@ala.org

CHICAGO — The American Library Association (ALA) and the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) are providing support to local efforts to avert cuts to high school librarians in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD).

The proposed cuts directly follow district reform efforts that led to massive restructuring and a transition to a per pupil budgeting system.

ALA President Sari Feldman and AASL President Leslie Preddy submitted a letter to the CMSD Board of Education, noting the district’s new College Readiness Initiative and critical role that librarians, or school media specialists, play in preparing students for post-secondary success. They stated, “now, more than ever, school media specialists play a vital role in helping students graduate and preparing them for success in an increasingly complex information landscape.”

In addition, Feldman and Preddy pointed out the national and statewide recognition achieved by school media specialists at CMSD, by organizations such as the Fulbright Program and the National Endowment for the Humanities. These achievements have brought both professional development and library resources to the district, benefitting teachers and students alike.

An abbreviated version of Feldman and Preddy’s letter to the board ran in the Cleveland Plain Dealer on 3/21/16. The full letter can be read here:

Recognizing the critical budget challenges facing the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD), the American Library Association and American Association of School Librarians are concerned to learn about proposed cuts to media specialist positions at the district’s high schools. Now, more than ever, school media specialists play a vital role in helping students graduate and preparing them for success in an increasingly complex information landscape.

As CMSD implements its College Readiness Initiative, your high school media specialists provide critical instruction that prepares students to transition to post-secondary institutions. Furthermore, your media specialists ensure that all courses within the district are supported with appropriate and relevant digital and print resources. More than 60 studies from across the nation provide clear and consistent evidence that student achievement is higher in schools with certified school media specialists.

School media specialists are the heart of vibrant learning communities and wear many hats. School media specialists provide a continuum of information literacy instruction; they are information experts who curate a collection of resources tailored to a school’s learning objectives and its students’ unique needs; and, they are technology specialists who develop ethical and capable digital citizens. School media specialists are essential partners to their colleagues, bringing instructional resources, technology and literacy tools to the curriculum, as well as professional development to teachers and staff.

The newly reauthorized federal education statute, the Every Student Succeeds Act, includes provisions that specifically support school library programs and school media specialists. This legislation acknowledges the value that strong school library programs play in academic achievement, literacy, and digital citizenship. 

CMSD high school media specialists have been recognized by such national and state organizations as INFOhio, the Fulbright Program, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. In addition, CMSD media specialists have been awarded grant funding—from the Department of Education and the Laura Bush Foundation—that has brought professional development and resources to the district’s schools. With a track record of strong library programs, your school media specialists are well-positioned as partners in developing ESSA-aligned plans for the district’s literacy, digital literacy, and community learning initiatives.

The return on investment in school libraries is clear. The elimination of school media specialist positions is a long term cost to students that you cannot afford. We urge you to reverse the proposed cuts and maintain media specialists throughout the district.

 

The CMSD Board is expected to meet this week to discuss this and other budget matter

About the American Library Association

The American Library Association is the oldest and largest library association in the world, with more than 58,000 members in academic, public, school, government, and special libraries. The mission of the American Library Association is to provide leadership for the development, promotion and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.

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