Fourth- and eighth-grade students in Los Angeles, the District of Columbia, and Baltimore show strong reading achievement during the past two years, while students in Houston, Cleveland, and Austin are still struggling, according to findings from the National Center for Education Statistics.
‘Nation’s Report Card’ Shows Los Angeles, District of Columbia Reading Scores Up as Progress Stalls in Houston, Cleveland
Rudolfo Anaya’s award-winning coming-of-age story Bless Me, Ultima, considered a classic of Chicano literature, has been returned to high school classrooms in Idaho’s Teton County School District following a parental challenge that temporarily removed it from the classroom.
Residents of North Carolina’s Watauga County have rallied in recent weeks in support of Isabel Allende’s acclaimed novel The House of the Spirits, which is being challenged by a local group. In an effort to keep the issue in the public eye ahead of book’s next review, advocates hosted a teach-in about the book last week at Appalachian State University.
Los Angeles K–12 schools, already operating with a paucity of teacher librarians, also have a shortage of library aides. Some school libraries are being run by volunteers—violating the school district’s own rules, and resulting in the loss of millions of dollars of materials.
New York’s education commissioner and Board of Regents members will be speaking at town hall events in New York City on December 10–11 to promote the Common Core. But parents and teachers who oppose the standards—or how they have been implemented—plan to attend to air their objections, they tell SLJ.
Members of the United Federation of Teachers, parents, and students joined hundreds of other union members, activists and community leaders for a rally in Foley Square in Manhattan on December 5. The advocates were calling for smaller class sizes, sufficient materials, and an emphasis on teaching instead of test-prep and standardized testing.
Teens in the U.S. scored about average in reading and science and below average in mathematics when compared to their counterparts around the world on the most recent Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), with little change seen from previous scores. This reported gap has sparked debate among U.S. education experts on how to interprete the data and on the PISA’s relevance.
The Freedom to Read Foundation, joined by key library and learning advocates, filed an amicus brief November 25 with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals challenging the constitutionality of an Arizona statute that bans ethnic studies. The statute violates students’ First Amendment rights, Barbara M. Jones, FTRF’s executive director, says.
Sherman Alexie’s award-winning young adult novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indiancan no longer be taught in classrooms at West Virginia’s Harpers Ferry Middle School, English teacher Dawn Welsh—who had assigned the book to approximately 120 eighth graders—tells SLJ. The often-challenged title was removed from the curriculum at Jefferson County Schools after parent Misty Frank objected to its profanity and sexual content.
If you’ve been struggling to find the time and resources to start up a friends group for your school library, help has arrived. United for Libraries, a division of the American Library Association, has created a free toolkit geared toward school librarians for just this purpose, and it is now freely available at their website.
Young adult author A.S. King has partnered with school and public libraries in four communities for multi-generational reads of her novels, producing some illuminating experiences and conversations between teens and adults. More towns and cities should try such projects, King and her librarian partners say.
Local communities and school districts have rallied this fall against recent objections to Alice Walker’s The Color Purple and Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian—garnering support for them to remain, at least temporarily, on school reading lists.
A review committee at Minnesota’s Anoka High School has agreed to retain Rainbow Rowell’s lauded young adult novel Eleanor & Park in its library, despite a complaint from a parent who had partnered with the conservative Parents Action League to challenge the book.
Earlier this year, a committee of Vermont’s Board of Education quietly revised the State Education Quality Standards to remove the words “library” and “library program,” despite recommendations from the Vermont School Library Association (VSLA). The VSLA has been working tirelessly ever since to get library-specific language reinstated before the board rules in December.
On November 21, the White House will honor 10 connected educators—education leaders who creatively use technology to help kids learn—as “Champions of Change,” including classroom teachers, administrators, and one librarian, blogger and SLJ columnist Carolyn Foote.
Passionate school library advocacy takes many forms, though all too often these efforts don’t reach the district and state level. This can change once stakeholders start working together to improve student outcomes. That’s the goal of Project Connect, a national initiative bringing thought leaders to the same table to support the needs of 21st century schools.
Woodrow Wilson Elementary was contemplating ways to raise funds for more iPads for students. Certain options were out of the question—asking kids to sell stuff that no one wanted, or using a fundraising company that would give participants cheap prizes. We wanted a new approach, and the iPad Film Festival was born.
As school library professionals from around the country flock to Hartford, CT, this weekend for the AASL National Conference, Connecticut’s own media specialists are at a crossroads. They face one of the highest achievement and budget gaps in the US between the state’s poor and wealthy school districts. However, the potential for successful advocacy is very high.
Neil Gaiman‘s bestselling urban fantasy novel Neverwhere has been restored to the curriculum at New Mexico’s Alamogordo High School (AHS), ending a temporary suspension due to a parental challenge. The book remained available to students in the library, although it had been pulled from English classes for several weeks until a review committee found it to be suitable and age-appropriate for study.