The Time to Support the SKILLS Act is Now
I received the following letter today from American Library Association president Molly Raphael. The SKILLS Act is the Strengthening Kids’ Interest in Learning and Libraries Act which is part of the upcoming Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization. I urge you to show your support for school libraries, school librarians, and ultimately, our future–the students who learn information literacy and love of learning in school libraries, by contacting your senators and representatives.
Letter From Molly Raphael, ALA President
As you may know, I recently formed a special task force to combat the threat to school library programs. More on information on it can be found here: http://ala.org/ala/newspresscenter/news/pr.cfm?id=8155. Across the country, students are attending schools without effective school library programs. Without access to school libraries, students are missing out on college and career readiness programs, digital literacy instruction, and personalized support from state certified school librarians. It is impossible to disregard the impact that cuts to school library instruction programs will have on future generations.
The fact is that what happens to school library programs affects libraries of all types. As such, I’ve called on librarians of all types to participate in this task force. And now, I’m calling on you to get involved. The time has come for an “all hands on deck” approach to this crisis in the making.
In the coming weeks and months, you’ll be hearing more about ways you can get involved to help school library programs. In the meantime, I urge you to contact your Congressional representatives for two very important reasons:
First, urge both your senators and representatives to send their education staff to the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) Congressional Briefing, “Education Reform and the SKILLs Act: An Analysis of Twenty-First Century School Libraries and Their Impact on Career and College Preparedness” on Monday, October 17th, from 10am-11am ET in Room 121 of the Cannon House Office Building Washington D.C.
The briefing will cover how the SKILLs Act supports and sustains 21st century school libraries. For more about the AASL Briefing: http://ala.org/ala/newspresscenter/news/pr.cfm?id=8244
Secondly, while you’re contacting your senator, ask him or her to co-sponsor S.1328, the Strengthening Kids’ Interest in Learning and Libraries (SKILLS) Act that ensures that every school is served by a state-certified school librarian and the school library program has access to the resources students need to become lifelong learners. The SKILLS ACT bill will amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965 regarding school libraries, and for other purposes.
Currently, there are only five co-sponsors of the SKILLS Act in the Senate. The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pension Committee will be writing federal education legislation on October 18, so the time to act is now.
If you do not know how to contact your legislator, you can visit ALA resources to get involved:
1. Go the ALA Legislative Action Center by clicking here:
2. Read over the talking points and type in your zip code to find the phone number for your senator’s office (you will see additional talking points). You can also be connected to your senator’s office by calling the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121
3. Call both senators and ask them to co-sponsor the SKILLS Act using the provided talking points and your own stories about why school libraries are so important.
4. Fill out the feedback card or email firstname.lastname@example.org to describe what you heard.
These small steps you take right now are crucial to maintaining a voice for school library programs. But this is only the beginning. In the months to come, we will have important work to do: working together, I hope that we can avert this potential crisis, and in turn, raise the visibility of libraries of all types to even greater heights. I look forward to working with you.
2011-2012 ALA President
Updates as of 10/29/2011 – Videos & Briefing Summary; ESEA Reauthorization
For more on the 10/20/2011 HELP Committee read Direct Dispatch’s ESEA passes out of committee without school library amendment