As you probably know, the new federal education bill, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), was passed in December. Since this is such a huge shift in policy, the law has not actually been implemented yet because state and local education agencies need time to plan for and adjust to the new law. AASL is developing resources to help school librarians and school library advocates use this in-between time to speak up about the important role school libraries play in the success of students. Check them out on their web site.
The U.S. Department of Education has mandated that each state write and submit an ESSA Implementation Plan by no later than April 2017, and states are working on them now. In order to ensure that school libraries are adequately included in their state’s plan, school library advocates will want to 1) make sure that a representative from school libraries in their state is part of the discussions that lead to developing the plan by ensuring that a school library representative serves on your state’s ESSA work group; and 2) take advantage of the public discussions and comment periods states are offering now to help inform how their ESSA plan is shaped. These opportunities are crucial to take advantage of to ensure that the authors of the plan understand how vital effective school library programs are to students’ success. You can also learn more about this issue via these sites:
If you really want to get into the nitty gritty, you can read this FAQ (.pdf) from the U.S. Department of Education. You can also sign up on the US Dept. of Education site to receive updates about ESSA. Speaking up for school libraries during this year of planning is crucial: once these state plans are in place, they will likely not be changed for a decade or more.