Delegates at the 2013 National Education Association (NEA) Annual Meeting and Representative Assembly this week voted to support the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) in its lobbying efforts with regard to the Strengthening America’s Schools Act. The pending legislation includes dedicated funding for staffing of all school libraries with certified librarians; up-to-date books, materials, equipment, and technology (including broadband); and the development of information, digital, and research literacy.
Supported by the NEA Library, Information Literacy, and Technology Caucus, and presented by Susan Ridgeway, AASL member and advocacy chair for the Ohio Educational Library Media Association, the NEA measure promises to support AASL in its upcoming lobbying efforts.
“I am so happy that the item passed unanimously,” says Ridgeway in the NEA’s announcement. “That tells me that my colleagues agree wholeheartedly with all of the studies that have been conducted in the last twenty years. They know students perform better when they have access to certified school librarians. This will send a clear message to the Senate that this portion of the ESEA needs to be included and the whole bill needs to be passed by both houses as soon as possible.”
Adds Gail Dickinson, AASL president, in the announcement, “This high profile show of support by NEA will encourage school librarians across the nation. AASL would like to thank the NEA, the caucus, and Susan for championing the profession and we look forward to continuing our strong partnership.”
The Strengthening America’s Schools Act was introduced in the Senate last month by Tom Harkin (D-IA), Patty Murray (D-WA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Jack Reed (D-RI). It is the first piece of legislation to recognize the role school library programs play in student learning since 1965, according to the American Library Association.