Thursday, September 13, 2007

The SKILLs Act

From the New York Library Association:

Dear Library Advocate,

The ALA Government Relations Office is asking ALA Chapters (NYLA) to reach out to the library community to urge them to contact their Congressional representatives in support of including the SKILLs Act as part of the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind legislation.

The SKILLs Act would require a highly qualified school library media specialist in every school. The House Education and Labor Committee will be considering reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind legislation starting on September 24th.

ALA is requesting that you contact your Congressional representatives to either ask them to be a co-sponsor of the SKILLs Act (there are currently no NY representatives as co-sponsors) and support its inclusion in the NCLB legislation.

Below are talking points you can use in your letter to your Congressional representatives. Visit here to email your letter to Congress.

SKILLs Act Info and Talking Points

* Requires school districts, to the extent feasible, to ensure that every school within the district employs at least one highly qualified school library media specialist in each school library;
* Defines highly qualified school library media specialists as those who have a bachelor's degree and have obtained full state certification as a school library media specialist or passed the state teacher licensing examination, with state certification in library media in such state;
* Establishes as a state goal that there be at least one highly qualified school library media specialist in every public school no later than the beginning of the 2010-2011 school year;
* Broadens the focus of training, professional development, and recruitment activities to include school library media specialists;
* Ensures that funds will serve elementary, middle, and high school students;
* Requires books and materials to be appropriate for and engage the interest of students in all grade levels and students with special learning needs, including English language learners.

Talking Points

* Multiple studies have affirmed that there is a clear link between school library media programs that are staffed by a school library media specialist and student academic achievement. Across the United States, research has shown that students in schools with good school libraries learn more, get better grades, and score higher on
standardized test scores than their peers in schools without libraries.
* Academic Librarians: School libraries are KEY to ensuring college readiness.
* Public Librarians: School library media specialists give students the skills they need to utilize your library to its fullest extent.
* Long regarded as the cornerstone of the school community, school libraries are no longer just for books. Instead, they have become sophisticated 21st century learning environments offering a full range of print and electronic resources that provide equal learning opportunities to all students, regardless of the socio-economic or education levels of the community - but only when they are staffed by school library media specialists trained to collaborate with teachers and engage students meaningfully with information that matters to them both in the classroom and in the real world.
* Only about 60 percent of our school libraries have a full-time, state-certified school library media specialist on staff.
* With limited funding and an increased focus on school performance, administrators are trying to stretch dollars and cut funds across various programs to ensure that maximum resources are dedicated to improving student academic achievement.
* Because NCLB does not highlight the direct correlation between school library media specialists and increased student academic achievement, library resource budgets are increasingly being used to mitigate the effects of budgetary shortfalls.

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