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Victory for school libraries as Senate passes education bill

Woman and young girl in kitchen with laptop and paperwork smiling
Photo by: GSCSNJ

The Senate made great strides this week to ensure needed reform to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).  After much debate and across the aisle discussion, yesterday the Senate overwhelmingly passed S. 1177, the Every Child Achieves Act, by a vote of 81-17.

As we discussed in a previous post, the inclusion in the bill of the bi-partisan Reed-Cochran amendment, makes S. 1177 a monumental step forward for schools, their libraries and the millions of students they serve.  Most fundamentally and importantly, the amendment (approved 98-0) makes explicit that ESEA funds may be used to support school libraries and “effective school library programs” in multiple ways.

As detailed in ALA’s recent press statement, “The Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 contains several provisions in support of libraries, including state and local planning requirements related to developing effective school library programs and digital literacy skills; professional development activities for school librarians; partnership opportunities for libraries; and competitive grants for developing and enhancing effective school library programs.”

Now that both the House (H.R. 5) and the Senate have completed their bills, the next step will be the appointment of members from both chambers to a conference committee to reconcile differences between the two pieces of legislation.  That new bill then must be approved again by both the House and Senate.

Although we do not anticipate this happening before the fall, please do stay tuned and watch for legislative alerts!  Your voices will be needed at that time to remind your Members of Congress about the importance of school libraries and how essential it is that the provisions supporting school libraries remain in the final bill.

More detailed information on the library provisions found in S. 1177 can be found here.

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Jessica McGilvray

Jessica McGilvray is a former member of the Washington Office government relations team.

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  1. This act is long overdue. How can the U.S. Expect every student to become literate when many states reduced school libraries to empty rooms? We need credentialed active full-time professionals in every American school not just the higher economic schools…but every school. No more instructional assistants or good intentioned parent volunteers… But real school librarians with real budgets to get every child reading and learning.
    I should know…I am one of the few school librarians but without a real annual budget. I get by on some funds and the majority of my funding comes from fundraising. That is my reality for going on ten years. In my district with over 20,000 students there are only 6 credentialed librarians and none at the early elementary schools.

  2. Ana Colon Ana Colon

    I totally agree. I am a certified elementary school library media center specialist, without a media center budget. I fundraise, which I feel that should not be part of my job. Students NEED to become life long readers, if we expect our public education to reach every child reading has to be a top priority. Students differentiate between having to read for a grade and reading for knowledge and pleasure. If the books, magazines, newspapers and computers are not there when they need them libraries become obsolete. An open functioning democratic nation must provide their students with all types of materials so they can grow up to be independent thinkers. This is not happening. funding is just one of the many issues public school libraries. Many of the school libraries in the state of Florida are closed or just barely opening without certified librarians, and clerks. In my school we have about 900 students, about 89% of them non English speakers. They need to read in order to become productive American citizens, they need books that are up to date and materials that are relevant to our society today, not from 1963. We need to provide a budget for every public school library for we are the cornerstone that will teach our future citizens to be open minded, entrepreneurial, innovative thinkers and ongoing learners .

  3. […] with the reauthorization of the Elementary Secondary Education Act (ESEA). As you may have read in past posts, school libraries fared extremely well in S.1177, the Every Child Achieves Act, but not so well in […]

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