The U.S. Department of Education has asked for public comment on their recently released “Proposed Supplemental Priorities of Discretionary Grant Programs.” Each time the Department of Education (the ED) revisits its priorities is an opportunity for libraries to demonstrate the many ways we provide high-quality education for students of all ages, from early learners to lifelong learners. It is a chance for libraries to have a voice at the national level and influence public policy.
The ED is asking for public comment by Monday, November 13. By using our voices to help the ED set priorities, we can increase the chances libraries are eligible for federal funding that can provide more resources and opportunities to the patrons we serve. ALA will be filing comments and is encouraging librarians across the country to file as well.
The ED’s 11 proposed priorities are a menu of goals for the Department to use for individual discretionary grant competitions. Although the current notice by the ED contains few mentions of libraries, the priorities include several areas where libraries are already making a significant contribution, including:
- Priority 6: Promoting Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Education, With a Particular Focus on Computer Science;
- Priority 7: Promoting Literacy; and
- Priority 9: Promoting Economic Opportunity.
Does your library promote STEM and computer science education? In what ways does your library foster literacy? Does your library implement programs for career readiness? If you see how your library contributes to these or any of the ED’s 11 proposed priorities, submit a letter by the November 13 deadline. If you send a copy of your comments to us, we will add them to our collection of library stories to share with other advocates and congressional staff.
Encouraging the ED to include additional references to libraries sends a signal to ED agencies and grant-making entities that libraries are fully engaged in meeting the needs of all learners – and that our nation’s libraries have a voice at the highest levels of decision-making.
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