Dear Supporters of School Libraries:
We wish we could tell you we’d completely closed the distance separating us and the restoration of full funding for school librarians. Sadly that is not the case. At this moment, the council chairman is recommending that $1 million be taken from the “Proving What’s Possible” grant program and be given to help fund the librarians. Unfortunately, that sum does not even restore the existing status quo vis-à-vis library staffing. And that leaves the vast majority of school libraries with little in the way of resources. So we’re several million dollars short of what’s needed to get a librarian in every school and to begin to give them the tools to succeed. We still have low literacy scores in DCPS and now we can add science as well. District eighth-graders who took the science portion of the National Assessment of Educational Progress test last year scored at the bottom nationally. In most DCPS facilities, if a student wanted to find a book on nearly any scientific topic they would be unable to do so. Yet there are more than 60 studies going back to 1965 that show school libraries have a significant impact on literacy and help bolster academic achievement in all academic areas. Last fall, Woodson High School opened in a new $110 million building. It has 200 books in its library. There are schools within DCPS that have good libraries. But they exist because the parents of many of those children have the means to help will a good library into being. The parent organization at Lafayette Elementary School contributes $10,000 a year toward the acquisition of new library materials. The School Libraries Project on Capitol Hill created eight beautiful libraries for neighborhood schools. But this is not the world of many District school children. If the chancellor’s proposal goes through, 16,600 students will not have access to a school librarian next year. Many of these children are among our city’s most disadvantaged.
We need you to do one task twice. Please call and e-mail the office of the council chairman and the chancellor. Tell them you are opposed to the cuts in school librarians and that you want adequate funding for library materials. The council votes on Tuesday. Please do this today. And ask others to do the same. Hillary Clinton had it right. It takes a village to raise a child.
DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson
(202)478-5738 (you will either leave a message or speak with someone from the DCPS Critical Response Team)
Send a message to the Chancellor at http://dcps.dc.gov/DCPS/About+DCPS/Contact+Us/Ask+the+Chancellor
DC Council Chairman Kwame Brown