by Dorcas Hand, Editor of TASLTalks, with help from Jennifer Rike and Wendy Woodland
ESSA – Every Student Succeeds Act – is the buzz this fall. Signed into federal law last December, every kind of K-12 educator wants to be included in this potential pot of money. The process of being approved for funding is in full swing, to be immediately followed by the application for funding. School Librarians are included in the actual language of the law, for the first time – but to actually get benefits, we have to convince our principals, district leadership and – most immediately – the TEA Team working on the state plan to name us in the state ()nd later the local, plan.
TEA has decided to send a survey out to everyone – a scattershot approach most likely to reach upper-level education administrators. The survey does not mention the word library – surprised? But a team of folks with TLA and TASL have developed a set of Talking Points to help respondents include libraries in many answers. Great – we have the tools we need.
What’s missing??? Lots of respondents willing to do this. Translate that to YOU – and all your parents, teachers, community, … Every person you can convince to respond should – and should mention libraries as many times as possible.
On the survey, key questions for us are:
Q3: What should Texas adopt for its measure of school quality or school success?
Q5: How can we ensure that all Texas students have a quality education that prepares them for success, especially students with disabilities or various backgrounds (e.g. poverty, English learners, and foster care)?
Q6: What knowledge, experiences, and skills should Texas students possess to be ready for success in college, careers, and/or military?
Q7: A goal of our state is to ensure that all students – and especially our most vulnerable students – have great teachers and principals. What strategies can we use to ensure all students have access to high-quality teachers and principals across the state?
Q8: What are the important things we can do improve struggling schools?
Q9: Do you have any additional input for Texas’ ESSA Consolidated State Plan?
Each question has a place for a short answer – use it. Tell them what we, the school library community, needs them to hear. (3) Effective school library programs make a difference in student achievement – tell them how. (5) We are always talking about Equity. (6) 21st century skills, research skills, … - be specific about life and career ready. (7) Back to Equity – Book deserts, technology deserts, digital resource deserts… (8) Community learning centers wit enrichment already in place. (9) Effective school library programs close student performance gaps and increase post-secondary readiness… tie it up with a big red bow. Copy/paste from the PDF – or, even better, use your own words and examples.
Most important – get lots of your local stakeholders to help. We want to inundate TEA with responses that talk about how school libraries matter. Click here to open the survey - ASAP. By November 18. No time to waste!