by Dorcas Hand
Now we know who is governor and who will be working in the state legislature; we have our work cut out for us. As you see below, from the timeline TLA’s Gloria Meraz posted to the TLA website (http://txla.org/advocate ) earlier in the fall, there were things we should have done before now. But there is even more we should do – and can still do. Those photos you took in October for Snapshot Day – you can use them now as well. Between now and January, contact your legislators, the ones that have direct impact on your school district and on your residential district. Use this time as an opportunity to make friends with elected officials. Help them understand school libraries as assets to their communities. Building relationships with these folks will help us know how to keep the conversation going into the future.
You have several goals:
- You want to remind them how important the students in your schools are to the future of the state of Texas – from your perspective as their librarian. I’m thinking of the Jon Green quote, “So let me explain why I like to pay taxes for schools, even though I don’t personally have a kid in school; it’s because I don’t like living in a country with a bunch of stupid people.” How do school libraries contribute to the community?
- You want them to know why TexQuest resources matter to your students. Yes, to your students – via your teachers and curriculum. For details, http://texquest.net/home
- You want them to know why school librarians and libraries matter to student test scores and academic achievement. They need stories that illustrate the data. The data is out there from various states, but the stories that demonstrate the connection for particular students and groups in your Texas schools have a greater chance of getting through to our legislators.
Remember last week’s post? Stand Up, Speak Out, Recruit; Repeat. Well, the RECRUIT piece is even more important when you start reaching out to legislators, especially new ones. Ask your parents and your students to write letters and send copies of projects; having voices beyond our professional ones is really important. The more we can predispose legislators before the budget process begins, the more likely they will vote our way. Just keep those cards and letters moving in the right direction, towards individual legislators all across the state!
- Fall 2014: Introduce yourself to your state representative, senator, and candidates and talk about the importance of supporting library issues.
- October 1 – October 31: Use Library Snapshot Day (you can select any day in October) as a PR and advocacy forum.
- November 4: General Election
- January 13, 2015: First Day of the 84th Legislature
- January 14 – beginning of February: House and Senate leaders appoint committees for the 84th Legislature.
- February: State budget hearings on Appropriations Bill (HB 1/ SB 1) begin.
- February 12: Library Virtual Action Day. Plan activities that you and your library supporters can undertake to promote statewide funding for library programming.