Today the U.S. House of Representatives passed S. 1177, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) by an overwhelming majority. The bill now moves on to the Senate and if passed, and signed into law, will be the first piece of federal legislation in over 50 years to provide school libraries with a dedicated revenue stream to enhance school library services and resources.
American Association of School Librarians (AASL) President Leslie Preddy and American Library Association (ALA) President Sari Feldman released the following joint statement in response to today’s vote.
“The AASL and ALA commend the House for passing the Conference Report, which has multiple provisions included as part of Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) that would support effective school library programs. We are pleased to support this critical legislation.
“Improvements contained under ESSA that include effective school library programs will help ensure that all students graduating from America’s schools will be adequately prepared for college, career and workforce success.
“As poverty rates across America remain high, our schools must serve as an ‘equalizer’ that provides all students with access to the resources, instruction and life skills they need to succeed academically and become productive and engaged citizens.
“Effective school library programs are a wise investment, but in too many schools across the nation, school library budgets and school librarian positions are being cut. This puts our children’s education and workforce readiness at peril.
“Data from the Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) 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.
“The ALA has been disheartened by this lack of support for effective school library programs and comprehensive literacy instruction at the federal, state, and local levels because studies show that schools with effective school library programs ensure their students have the best chance to succeed.”
For additional information on how to support the nation’s school libraries, please visit the ALA’s Action Alert page.