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ESEA passes out of committee without school library amendment

The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee last night (October 20th) passed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) with a 15-7 vote.  Joining all Democrats in voting in favor of the legislation were three Republicans, Senators Mike Enzi (R-WY), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Mark Kirk (R-IL).  Unfortunately, an amendment sponsored by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) that would support school libraries was withdrawn by Senator Whitehouse because of lack of support on the amendment.   Even though, this amendment was withdrawn Senator Whitehouse did state in committee that he does wish to reintroduce this amendment on the senate floor.

The next step in the legislative process is for the ESEA bill to be brought before the full Senate.  It is unknown at this time when this will happen. When the bill is eventually brought to the senate floor we will need active support from all ALA members and other library supporters to push their senators to vote for the Whitehouse/Murray amendment.

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Jeffrey Kratz

Jeffrey Kratz is a former member of the Washington Office government relations team.


  1. LizP LizP

    According to @educationsector on Twitter and committee hearing audio, the committee will be meeting again on this bill November 8th, as part of a compromise struck with Senator Rand Paul regarding progress on the bill. It’s not over, even in this session.

  2. NoahJon Marshall NoahJon Marshall

    I wish this article had a more detailed explanation as to why the amendment was/is important rather than just it would “support school libraries”.

    The heart of the issue was/is the SKILLS (Strengthening Kids Interest in Learning and Library) Act. This bill makes federal funding for school libraries (at all K-12 education levels) specifically easier to get, offers professional development for educators that focuses on information literacy, digital literacy, the melding of various content areas with literacy skills, creates access to library-related grants and makes funding for poorer school districs a little easier and fairer to get, among other benefits.

    While the SKILLS Act is not officially dead, it is on life support at least during this Congress. The focus should be here but also
    on the Library Services and Technology Act which is the main government funding source for libraries in America. Because of the mandated spending cuts, coming either from the Super Comittee or by default cuts, LSTA will be a target; it was last year when only billions were cut, not 1.2 trillion. Putting pressure on lawmakers and starting a full court press to minimize the damage to LSTA should start NOW….waiting until the Spring is not enough time.

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