The Nebraska Department of Education has written a draft of the proposed new regulations regarding the approval, accreditation, and accountability for schools, but despite all the input received from schools, teachers, and librarians, the department has nearly eliminated all requirements for a trained librarian in schools. Students and schools need you to voice your opinion before June 30, 2021 to save school libraries. (Select – approval rule- and go to section 5)
Under the proposed rule change each school “system” would only be required to have 1 half-time certified librarian and the library rooms themselves would only need to be staffed by “an adult”—with no requirements of any kind for required education and training. Entire school district- even those like LPS and their 42,000+ students- would only have to have 1 half-time certified librarian. Drastic librarian cuts have occurred in many other states and they are very hard to reverse. US public schools have lost 20% of their librarians since 20o0.
It’s important to note that librarians today are not your grandma’s librarian- probably not even what YOUR librarian was like. Librarians teach many skills beyond how to find a good book to read. Librarians specialize in teaching information literacy, evaluating sources (looking at you, fake news!), research skills, and technology. They are an integral part of preparing students for the future of work, learning and online information.
School librarians are required to have advanced training beyond a teaching degree. In Nebraska, a “library media endorsement” is required. This endorsement takes nearly as many credits as a master’s degree. In fact, many librarians take just a couple more classes in order to have a full master’s in education.
Plenty of research exists to show that school libraries improve learning for students.
“When comparing schools with and without librarians, the study indicates that the presence of a qualified school librarian can make a tremendous difference in reading achievement. This difference ranges from eight percent for high schools to 35 percent for elementary schools. For instance, schools with librarians have 35 percent more fourth graders who score proficient or above than schools without librarians.”(Rodney, et al 2010).
We know Nebraska has excellent schools that outperform many states, even with less funding, but if schools are allowed to cut librarian positions to save money (thanks Ricketts and your budget cuts), students will surely be negatively impacted.
What can you do?
The Nebraska School Library Association has a WEALTH of information to help you provide public feedback to the Nebraska Department of Education before the window closes on June 1, 2021. https://nde.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_6F2H1kqTu7rzLPU
1. The wording “library area,” be changed to “library facility” to ensure a specific space is used for the school library materials and instruction. This change would prevent situations like a bookcase being placed in a hallway and being called a “library area”.
2. Instead of “school system,” use “school district” to provide clarity as “system” could be interpreted in a variety of ways.
3. Most importantly, specific language needs to be included about the staffing allocations for buildings based on population. These were present in the current iteration of Rule 10 and were in the recommendations from the Future Ready Librarians committee.
Want to do more?
- Submit public comment to a Nebraska State Board of Education meeting between July and October 2021. As the BOE is the one who votes on approving the new language, it is imperative that you also contact the state BOE members with your concerns. NE State Board of Education Members
- Contact the Commissioner of Education Matthew L. Blomstedt 402-471-5020 firstname.lastname@example.org
- Contact members of the Nebraska Legislature Education Committee & your state senator
Sen. Lynne Walz, Chairperson (402) 471-2625 email@example.com
Sen. Jen Day (402) 471-2725 firstname.lastname@example.org
Sen. Lou Ann Linehan (402) 471-2885 email@example.com
Sen. Terrell McKinney (402) 471-2612 firstname.lastname@example.org
Sen. Adam Morfeld (402) 471-2720 email@example.com
Sen. Dave Murman (402) 471-2732 firstname.lastname@example.org
Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks (402) 471-2633 email@example.com
Sen. Rita Sanders (402) 471-2615 firstname.lastname@example.org