I know this post is long, but I hope you will read it through, and then take action!
Here is a copy of the email I sent to all of the school librarians in my district last week:
Please see the messages below regarding the importance of advocacy in general, and a specific piece of legislation you can influence. We need our senators to co-sponsor the SKILLS (Strengthening Kids Interest in Learning and Libraries) Act, which is part of S1328. Click here for more info: http://capwiz.com/ala/callalert/index.tt?alertid=51784501
I have already called Senators DeMint (http://sc–ala.capwiz.com/bio/id/532&lvl=C&chamber=S) and Graham (http://sc–ala.capwiz.com/bio/id/531&lvl=C&chamber=S) at both their Washington and Greenville offices, to ask that they support the SKILLS Act. (I was a little nervous, but the people I spoke with at all four offices were very polite and friendly.)
We have to speak up for ourselves and our students if we want the support of the decision-makers, in Washington or anywhere else. Please add your voice to those who have already called or written to ask that our senators make school libraries a priority in the federal budget!
School Library Friends,
For the 6 months of winter and spring Washington school librarians worked on our senator, Patty Murray, advocating for school library sponsorship for legislation. In fact, she heard us. When we sent floods of emails and calls concerning the lack of library mention in her literacy bill, she called us and said, “I hear the Washington school librarians and I will work on that legislation.” Shortly thereafter she was the first senator to co-sponsor the SKILLS Act, legislation specifically for school libraries. This was, for me personally, eye-popping proof I had hoped for: advocacy works, legislators respond to constituents, even at the national level.
Strategically, this bill could be passed as, what one representative once described to me as “budget dust”. That is, legislation that gets great mileage during tough fiscal times because it has “heart strings” – libraries and education, all in one – and it is fiscally insignificant in the budget.
We are defenseless against so many educational attacks today, but this is an actionable response. Please add this to your list of “IMPACT ACTIONS”.
ALA has been sending you messages, I’m sure. Their goal is 50 states 50 sponsors. I believe we can make this happen! Here’s a cut-and-paste from Jennifer Hadley with directions on how to get sponsorship from one of your state’s senators. It takes only a minute or two. Let’s show U.S. senators our strength in numbers:
URGENT! Please see message below and get out through all possible communication channels today.
ESEA Reauthorization is at a critical point and the school library community needs to act now! Please call both of your senators TODAY:
– To find your senators go to http://capwiz.com/ala/home/ and enter your zip code in the box on the right hand side
– You’ll then be taken to a page that will list “President & Congress” with your two senators’ name- click on the name
– The next page will give you the senator’s information- click on the “Contact” tab and call the Washington, DC phone number listed
– Tell them “My name is (insert name) from (insert city) and I’m contacting Senator (insert name) to ask that they co-sponsor S1328, the SKILLS Act.”
– Please do this for BOTH of your senators and spread the word far and wide as quickly as possible.
ALA’s hope is to demonstrate the strong support school libraries have by getting 50 Senators to co-sponsor the SKILLS Act! This will encourage Senators on the HELP Committee to agree to include the SKILLS Act in the ESEA Reauthorization bill currently being drafted. Chairman of the Senate HELP Committee, Tom Harkin of Iowa, has said that he would like the committee to mark up the ESEA Reauthorization bill and vote it out of committee this Fall!
There are still only 5 co-sponsors (Rhode Island – Jack Reed & Whitehouse, MS – Cochran, WV – Rockefeller, WA – Murray & MA – Kerry) and there have been no new co-sponsors since July! School library supporters need to call both their Senators and convince them to co-sponsor S 1328, the SKILLS Act. Let the Washington Office know what your Senator’s staff is saying, will they co-sponsor? If not, why not? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with any information.
Christie Kaaland, EdD
Antioch University Seattle
2326 Sixth Avenue
Seattle, WA 98121
Fran Bullington, SCASL Advocacy Committee Chair
Boiling Springs High School
Won’t you speak up for your students and your library program today? If you are not comfortable making phone calls, send an email or write a letter.
Let’s take inspiration from the Dr. Seuss classic Horton Hears a Who and remember that all of us raising our voices together can have an impact on the decision-makers in congress!