May 23, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

ALA’s ESSA Report Reveals Advocacy Plan

With school libraries explicitly included in the language of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), advocates were basking in the coup last month.  The question is: What now?

For supporters wondering just how and where to focus their efforts in this new era, the American Library Association Washington Office (ALAWASH) has a preliminary set of answers. Their report, Opportunities for School Librarians, identifies ways to maximize the opportunities for school libraries in ESSA. What seems clear, judging by the tenor and content of the report, is that there is still plenty of work to be done. Each library-specific provision is a win, to be sure, but it brings with it a new task ahead—or several. SLJ’s Editor-in-Chief, Rebecca T. Miller, addresses that reality in a recent editorial.

The document is organized by provision, each broken out by background, the library-related specifics, and next steps. Here are a few examples of the latter:

Title 1, Part A: Improving basic programs operated by state and local educational agencies
Because the local application provision is allowable (not required), make school district personnel aware of their ability to develop and implement effective school library programming.
Title II, Part B, Subpart 2: Literacy education for all, results for the nation (LEARN)
Encourage and assist state, school district, and/or school personnel in developing and applying for grants.
Title II, Part B, Subpart 2, Section 2226: Innovative approaches to Literacy (IAL)
Since IAL is a competitive grant program that has been funded in the past through appropriations, but newly authorized under ESSA, focus advocacy efforts at the federal level to ensure enough funds are appropriated to continue and possible expand it.

For those headed to the ALA Midwinter Meeting this weekend, Emily Sheketoff, executive director of ALAWASH, will be discussing the takeaways of the report at an update meeting on Saturday, January 9 from 8:30am to 10am in BCEC Room 253A.

Christina Vercelletto About Christina Vercelletto

Christina Vercelletto is School Library Journal’s former news editor. An award-winning writer and editor, Vercelletto has held staff positions at Babytalk, Parenting, Scholastic Parent & Child, and