- What is the Elementary and Secondary Education Act?
- Why are school libraries important?
- Teacher unions support school libraries
- Other Information
What is the Elementary and Secondary Education Act?
The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) or what was previously known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB) was scheduled to be reauthorized in 2009 but congress has not yet done so. However, both the Senate and House have been holding hearings and meetings throughout 2010 and 2011 on what should be included in a reauthorized ESEA bill. During this time, the Washington Office has been meeting with key legislators and staff working to get school libraries included into ESEA.
- ESEA provides federal funding for K-12 education programs and was last reauthorized in 2001 by the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). In general, the reauthorization of ESEA will determine federal education policy for the coming decade; that is why it is critical that dedicated funding for effective school library programs be included in this legislation.
- The Senate Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions (HELP) Committee is considering a bill in 2015.
Why are school libraries important?
- An effective school library program provides students with more than just books selected to hone readers’ developing skills and to instill a love of reading. While reading and books are mainstays of the school library program, today’s effective school library programs are also sophisticated learning environments that provide the education and necessary skills to succeed in college and the workplace.
- Research repeatedly shows that a well-funded and fully staffed school library with a State-certified school librarian is an integral component of a student’s education.
Recent data available from the Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) highlights the lack of support for too many of our students in thousands of schools across the country. NCES data reveals that approximately 8,830 public schools across the nation do not have a school library and for those schools that do have a library, nearly 17,000 schools do not have a full or part-time state-certified school librarian on staff.
- Across the United States, studies have demonstrated that students in schools with effective school library programs learn more, get better grades, and score higher on standardized tests than their peers in schools without such resources.
ALA applauds the objectives of ESEA, but believes the same standards being applied in our classrooms should be extended to our nation's school libraries - that every school should have an effective school library program.
An effective school library program:
- Is staffed by a state-certified school librarian;
- Has up-to-date books, materials, equipment and technology;
- Includes regular collaboration between classroom teachers and school librarians to assist with development and implementation of the curriculum; and
- Supports the development of digital literacy skills.
Teacher unions support school libraries
Librarian members of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) convinced their union to pass a resolution calling upon AFT to support school library legislative issues.(pdf) This resolution was AFT formerly adopted on October 16, 2013.
Also in 2013, librarian members of National Education Association (NEA) got their union to adopt a resolution calling upon NEA to support school library legislative issues.(pdf)
On February 13, 2015, in ALA sent these letters to Directors of AFT and NEA.
Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants (ESSA Title IV Block Grant)
On March 16, 2015 a coalition of more than 20 education businesses, associations and media groups called on the U.S. Congress to support dedicated school library funding in the reauthorization of the ESEA. The group specifically asks Congress to incorporate the Strengthening Kids’ Interest in Learning and Libraries (SKILLS) Act in ESEA reauthorization, which would expand federal investment in school libraries in order to offer students the tools they need to develop critical thinking, digital, and research skills. Coalition leaders sent the joint letter to U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Chairman Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA). (pdf)
On January 27, 2015 ALA submitted ESEA comments to Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Murray of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. (pdf)
ALA submitted ESEA comments on February 10, 2015 to Chairman Kline and Ranking Member Scott of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. (pdf)
- AASL and AFT ESEA resolutions (pdf)
- AASL Report: School Libraries Count! A National Survey of School Library Media Programs 2007
- Public law print of PL 107-110, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (pdf)