School librarians play a critical role in student achievement. Twenty years of research demonstrates that students enrolled in schools with librarians have better standardized reading scores – regardless of student poverty level or overall staffing losses.
Carl Harvey had a big idea to drive points like this home – get 25,000 signatures in 30 days on a White House Petition to ensure that every child in America has access to a school library program. By the time the petition closed on February 4, 2012, there were nearly 29,000 signatures. Harvey, a school librarian in Indiana, and former President of the American Association of School Libraries (2011-2012), sought to raise awareness of the vital role school libraries and librarians play in student literacy and for the allocation of Federal funds to support school library programs.
The petition garnered a lengthy response by Roberto Rodriguez, Special Assistant to the President for Education Policy. In his remarks, Rodriquez noted that President Obama requested $186.9 million in his 2013 budget for the Effective Teaching and Learning in Literacy competitive grant program, funding which would help fund the development of evidence-based, preschool-through-grade 12 literacy plans. He also reiterated Obama’s support of school libraries stating, “School libraries play a significant role in constructing and enriching that foundation. School libraries do much more than house books and store data: a school library can broaden the horizon of learning for students and link them with communities and experiences far beyond their own classroom and community.” (more…)