Act Now to Lay the ESEA Groundwork!

With reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act on the horizon, it is especially critical to make sure that our national legislators think school libraries whenever faced with education issues.

It is a great time to Act 4 School Libraries and Student Learning! The reauthorization of ESEA is one of the top agenda items for the next congressional session. Our goal is the inclusion of specific language supporting school libraries and YOUR efforts can make that happen!

ALA and AASL are specifically asking legislators to:

· include a stated goal of having a school library staffed by a state-licensed school librarian in every public school, and

· open all state and local professional development funds (such as the Teacher and Principal Training and Recruiting Fund and the Enhancing Education Through Technology Fund) to school libraries for the recruiting and training of school librarians.

The following strategies and actions can help ensure legislative support for libraries:

Just a Minute / Morning Business reports BY legislators (with info from you):

Just a Minute:

The 1 Minute is a tradition in the House where Representatives speak out on a topic of concern. A 1 Minute is included in the Congressional Record; thus, your Representative will be on record making a positive comment about the learning that takes place in school libraries. Contact your Representative (most likely you will be speaking with a legislative aid or staff member) to provide information for a 1 Minute on school libraries. Be prepared with specific school library information or a story about a school library activity in the congressperson’s district.

Morning Business

The Senate has an equivalent to the House’s 1 Minutes called Morning Business where Senators give short speeches of around 5 minutes. Contact your senators with approximately 5 minutes of talking points that include stories from two or three school libraries in your local district or in your state and ask him or her to give a Morning Business speech about the importance of school libraries in students’ education.

and always follow-up your contacts with a thank you and a request for support.

Invite Legislators to School (see Back2School4Candidates)

School visits provide an excellent opportunity to showcase the instructional role of school librarians and the 21st Century learning that takes place in school libraries.

See the PSLA Legislator@ Your Library Campaign

for examples of invitations, thank yous, press releases, and a list of possible activities that can occur during a visit, as well as handouts that can be adapted to your state and school to present to the legislator as a “take away.”

Go to Rallies and Ask Questions:

Attend and encourage library supporters to attend political events. Town Hall Meetings and other political events are great opportunities to get legislators to make statements on the record. If legislators or candidates are speaking, contact their staff members in advance to let them know you will be attending the political event and asking how the legislator/candidate supports student learning through school libraries. State specifically that your questions will be about school libraries; don’t blindside legislators. Invite them to explain their voting record. Ask if the congressperson can make a supportive statement at their next town meeting.