PSA: D.C. Parents and Students Protest Cuts to School Librarians

pic courtesy of Ponton Library at Blogspot

Parents Give Out Baked Treats Outside Mayor’s Office to Raise Awareness and Funds for 16,000 Students (57 Schools) With No Librarian This Fall!

Parents Tell Mayor and Chancellor – “Our Children Need Librarians!”

D.C. Parents [will gather from 8am to 11amgathered today outside the Mayor’s Office to protest the sudden cuts of school librarians from the D.C. Public School Budget.  All schools with fewer than 300 students have lost their librarian completely and even schools with larger enrollment must use their flexible (discretionary) allotment to fund librarians, often at the expense of an additional teacher or other key staff.

“Not only will 16,000 students be without a librarian at all this Fall, but in all D.C. public schools, librarians have been changed to “discretionary staff” by the Chancellor,” said Suzanne Wells, Founder of the Capitol Hill Public Schools Parents Organization (CHPSPO) and mother of a 2nd grader.  “We are here to tell the Mayor and Chancellor that school librarians are not expendable!”

Bearing free baked treats and signs reading “Have a Cookie, Save a Librarian”, and “Show Good Taste – Support Our Librarians,” D.C. parents accepted donations and requested signatures for a petition demanding that the Mayor and Chancellor:

–      Budget a librarian in every school (at least ½ time in smaller schools).

–      Move librarian position to core staff category (not flexible/optional).

–      Provide a “per student” budget allocation for books/materials.

–      Make DCPS budget more transparent!

Dr. Robert Zarr, D.C. pediatrician and father of a Pre-Kindergartner, says, “The slashing of funds for DCPS librarians is outrageous and presents yet another social injustice in our city.  There will be 16,000 students and 57 schools without a librarian.  What can be more fundamental to a child’s education and overall health than his or her ability to read? We demand that the Mayor and Chancellor reinstate funds so that all schools will have a librarian and that all children will have access to an essential part of their education.”

Hundreds of letters, including 130 signatures protesting the loss of one elementary school’s librarian alone, have been sent to the Mayor and Chancellor in recent weeks.  Angry parents have appeared at State of the Schools meetings in Wards throughout D.C. to protest the librarian cuts.  The Chancellor has cited budget constraints, but D.C. parents are skeptical.

“It’s simply not true that there is no budget for school librarians,” said Peter MacPherson, a former PTA president and father of a 10th grader. “For each of the past two years DCPS has budgeted more than $700,000 for library and media services. However, less than $50,000 has actually gone to school libraries. Where did the rest go? Also, the FY13 DCPS budget was scrubbed by an outside analyst. This study found dramatic overfunding in such areas as fringe benefits, far in excess of previous years fund levels. Nearly $20 million in this kind of overfunding alone could give all DCPS campuses world-class libraries.”

Parents are drawing upon educational research showing that librarians and school libraries are significant factors in promoting literacy and improving reading scores, particularly among children in poverty.

Anthony Allard, a PTA president and father of three, stated, “Educating our children is something everyone in our city can support.  The Mayor says that education is his priority and the Chancellor says that she wants to make schools better for every child.  Having a librarian at every school is their chance to put their money where their mouth is!”

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The Capitol Hill Public School Parents Organization (CHPSPO) was established in 2005 by a group of D.C. public school parents who agreed to work together to make improvements in neighborhood schools in the belief that student achievement is enhanced with parent involvement.  CHPSPO welcomes the opportunity to work with other school organizations to urge the D.C. Mayor and School Chancellor to keep librarians, and other essential staff, in the budget.  For more information, visit WWW.CHPSPO.ORG

For more information, contact:

Bella Dinh-Zarr: (202) 701-5656. dinhzarr@dinhzarr.org

(mother of D.C. elementary school student)

Peter MacPherson: (202) 315-8155; pmacpher@aol.com

(father of D.C. high school student)

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