School Libraries and House Bill 5
By Maya McElroy, J. Walter Elementary, Austin ISD
As the new school year gets underway and new routines are being established, campuses across Texas are keeping track of their House Bill 5 initiatives. The HB5 statute provides nine factors which must be reported to TEA annually and made public. Campuses receive a rating of exemplary, recognized, acceptable, or unacceptable based upon criteria set by a local committee. The nine factors are:
1. fine arts
2. wellness and physical education
3. community and parental involvement
4. 21st century workforce development program
5. 2nd language acquisition program
6. digital learning environment
7 dropout prevention strategies
8. educational programs for GT students
9. compliance with statutory reporting and policy requirements
Administrators, teachers, parents, and other community members all have important roles in attaining school-wide success within these nine factors, but I think campus librarians are in a unique position of being essential to campus success. With the exception of factor 9, compliance – which is policy-based, campus librarians already have a hand either in initiating, facilitating, or being of assistance with factors 1-8. For example, do you
- host a student book group?
- create research projects for your GT students?
- teach digital citizenship?
- stay open after hours for tutoring or ESL classes?
- host book fairs, coffee with the principal?
- help with the garden?
- run the chess club?
- keep a maker space?
- stay open late after school for checkout for students whose parents pick them up from after-care?
- help publish the school paper, literary magazine, or run the student broadcast?
- host storytellers, authors, illustrators, and guest speakers for students?
- Skype with authors or other educators or participate in distance learning opportunities with your students?
- organize educational field trips, literacy or vertical team events?
- take students to conferences?
- work with assistance groups or mentors who serve your students?
- work with donors for books or equipment purchases?
- apply for grants or community engagement endeavors?
If you do any of these within the year, you are essential to your campus HB5 compliance. Document your involvement and share it with your administration, reminding them that what you do supports their HB5 documentation. Maybe the PE teacher uses the library printer to print fitness grams or CATCH materials, or the music teacher wants to print the program for the choral concert – document them, too. Even if you aren’t directly involved with a program or event, chances are you know about it or helped the organizer, and that program or event might fit within the scope factors 1-8. At the end of the year, when it comes time for your administration to begin checking the boxes and documenting all of the wonderful things happening on your campus, you will be ready to share your long list to remind your principal just how essential -- and on top of it all – you are.