On January 17, U.S. Representative Raul Grijalva (D-AZ, 7th), along with Representatives Rush Holt (D-NJ, 12th) and Lynn Woolsey (D-CA, 6th) introduced the Strengthening Kids’ Interest in Learning and Libraries (SKILLS) Act. The SKILLS Act, numbered H.R. 3776 in the House, is a companion bill of S. 1328 that was introduced in the Senate by Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Thad Cochran (R-MS) back on July 6, 2011.
Both the House and Senate version of the SKILLS Act would amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) to do the following:
- Defines an “effective school library program” to be staffed by a state-certified school librarian, have up-to-date materials including technology, teaches digital literacy skills, and finally, has regular collaboration between other education professionals over curriculum.
- Replaces Improving Literacy Through School Libraries with Improving Literacy and College and Career Readiness Through Effective School Library Programs which would award competitive grants to underserved local schools and school districts to develop an effective school library program.
- Allows school librarians access to professional development funds under Title II of ESEA.
H.R. 3776 was referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. No further action has been announced for this legislation.
S. 1328 was introduced as an amendment to the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee mark-up of the ESEA reauthorization in October 2011. That amendment was unfortunately withdrawn due to lack of support on the committee, and ESEA was reported from the HELP committee without a library provision.