HB 13 & 13 Reasons Schools Need Librarians

If you live in NC and are remotely attuned to educational issues, you’ve probably heard about HB-13. NCGA passed strict class-size limits for the lower grades that districts will have a difficult time meeting in terms of both staff and space. HB 13 allows districts a bit more flexibility on those numbers. Currently, this bill is stalled in the senate. Reportedly, they are in no hurry to act on it. And the problem here is that school districts are working on next year’s budgets. What quality decisions can they possibly make with this hanging over their heads?

Understanding the ramifications of the stalling of this bill, which range from understated to catastrophic, is a complex matter that will differ from district to district. Each district is grappling with what this means for them. On the catastrophic end – schools will lose art, music, p.e., and language teachers. Assistants will probably be cut.

One area not mentioned in many reports is school librarians – which is the purpose of this little (or not so little) post. Librarians are paid from the same line-item as classroom teachers. I think all the positions I’ve mentioned are terribly important to the life of a school, but those other positions are getting some publicity, and librarians are not. I’ll save the why we aren’t for another post, but I do want to get the word out that school libraries, school library programs, and school librarians are in jeopardy here.

So what needs to happen? We need to encourage the senate to pass HB 13 so districts can plan for next year. We need to advocate for school libraries and their programs.

Action Plan:

  • Join NCSLMA. Then follow them on FaceBook & Twitter. Follow members of the executive board on those same platforms. Email one of them to find out how you can help because NCSLMA is 100% run by volunteers. No one volunteer can do all the advocacy work that should be done.
  • Write about the issue on social media and focus on what the loss of libraries means for our children/students.
  • Find your representatives, particularly your senators in this instance, to write and call. The linked site has a map to find both senators and representatives as well as their contact info.
  • Talk about how important school libraries are to everyone who will listen! I consistently come across two schools of thoughts. Libraries are valuable, but the librarian is out of touch, and libraries aren’t needed because everything can be googled. We are the mouthpiece for the value of libraries and librarians.
  • Find those who value your program and recruit them to share that value in their circles.
  • Use the list of 13 Reasons Why below to begin your talking points, but please make them personal! I’ve seen the great work so many of you are doing in your schools and communities! Now is the time to share!

13 Reasons Schools Need Librarians:

We:

  1. Design and develop a welcoming space for reading, collaboration, and learning.
  2. Develop a diverse collection of resources.
  3. Curate varied materials to provide an equal access to print and digital items.
  4. Promote reading by helping reluctant readers find reading materials that move them from reluctant to engaged
  5. Match students with just the right materials.
  6. Collaborate with teachers to enhance the curriculum on any number of items including lesson design and resources.
  7. Meet with small groups and individuals for personalized instruction.
  8. Train students and staff to navigate digital options and opportunities.
  9. Lead student development of inquiry-based literacy skills – locating resources and the selection of those that are valid, analyzing and synthesizing data, and the multitudes of ways to share information.
  10. Create an environment of exploration through varied activities like maker-spaces.
  11. Provide guidance for student activities like books clubs, gaming activities, recreational reading.
  12. Guide students through the research, design, and presentation process with an end result of higher self-confidence for students.
  13. Teach reflective learning practices so students discover the value of personal evaluation for their individual and group work.

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