Federal law requires that every state in the union submit their final ESSA Plan to the US Department of Education by April 2017 for Implementation starting with the August 2017 school year. Each state is going about creating their own ESSA Implementation Plans in their own ways. In some states, the Implementation Planning is being run by the state Department of Education or state School Board. In others, it is a comission appointed by the governor. Some states are using a task force model for evaluating changes to education policy, statute, or rules. Others are leaning more heavily on stakeholder or public listening tours. But the clock is ticking for school librarians in each state. ESSA Implementation means that they will all have to modify their state education laws or state education administrative codes, rules, or regulations in some way to be ESSA compliant and grant-ready. As a library community, we need to embed school library issues into each state’s ESSA Implementation Plan before time runs out.
EveryLibrary, with substantial support from Rosen Publishing, is providing state school library associations and stakeholder groups with pro-bono advising and consulting to lobby the ESSA Implementation process successfully. There are a few constants across all the states, regardless of the way they are going about developing the Plan: 1) they must address 3 key ESSA Action Areas as the ‘minimum required’ for their Plan; 2) decisions about the Plan are made by the people who show up; and 3) school librarian stakeholder must show up (on the task forces or by making public comment) or our issues will not be included in your state plan. The other factor is that the Implementation Planning timeline for each state is incredibly compressed and unusually fast. They will not pause to wait for us and they will not double back to make sure we are catching up.
EveryLibrary is currently working with several state school librarian groups including the Alaska Library Association, the Illinois School Library Media Association and NJLA/NJSLA, and is helping to convene and organize new lobbying activities for a half dozen more. To be clear, EveryLibrary isn’t doing policy work with any of these state organizations. Their own standards-based or outcomes-based rubrics, along with the powerful evidenced based school library policy work from AASL and ALA is at the core. EveryLibrary is uniquely positioned to work on state-specific tactics for lobbying success. We have compiled a calendar of ESSA Implementation dates and deadlines, along with links to each state’s ESSA process documents, for your review. In some states, the process is already underway and a tactical discussion about how to insert ourselves into the process is needed. For other states, the process is still being developed and we have a singular opportunity to be at the table at the beginning, provided we act quickly and strategically. Because of Rosen Publishing’s support, we have capacity to help your state. We welcome your contact.
It is absolutely critical to the future success of school library advocacy that all state ESSA Implementation Plans include the positive changes for school library programs and school librarian positions that were lobbied for, and won by, ALA and AASL at the federal level. Each state needs to have ‘effective school library programs’ integrated as a key component of each ESSA action Area in each state. Your state ESSA Implementation Plan needs to include strategies for how school librarians, positions that are now classified as ‘specialized instructional support personnel’, will put its ESSA Action Areas into practice. Without your state’s ESSA Planning Process including school library stakeholder voices and values, we can pack it up and go home.
You state’s planning process needs school library stakeholders embedded in the ESSA Implementation Planning Process as empowered lobbyists for our issues. Without your state’s Implementation Plan including school library programs and school librarian positions in state educational law or administrative code, our industry will continue to have to fight every federally won battle – again – at building and district levels. This ESSA Implementation period is critically important to codifying the changes school librarians need to thrive in the next generation.