Barbara Dowdall’s testimony transcript from the SRC meeting of April 20, 2017

Barbara Dowdall SRC testimony 4-20-17
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Barbara McDowell Dowdall: Budget Suggestions

Hello. Before I add an identifier beyond retired school district teacher (A. Philip Randolph Career Tech High School) and member of the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools (APPS), let me pose a question: “What would you say about a resource that provides in-depth subject-rich professional development opportunities for school district teachers — all levels (K-12), all subjects – that both affirms their status as scholars/effective lesson planners AND provides hundreds (435 in Philadelphia alone since the spring of 2006), nay, thousands (beginning in with Yale/New Haven Public Schools in 1978) of thoroughly-researched, activity-filled, reference-annotated, standards-based, ready-to-use curriculum units that any individual teacher, grade level staff, academic department, whole school or whole district can access at anytime online and totally free of charge? [Pause for reaction]

The good news is that this resource already exists and the free seminars with senior University of Pennsylvania faculty for Philadelphia public school teachers and the universal availability of their resulting curriculum units have been available and functioning since the spring of 2006. Based on the Yale-New Haven university-public school district partnership model, the Teachers Institute of Philadelphia (TIP) offered first to teachers in the West and South west regions, extended later to math and science teachers district-wide, now to all teachers in Philly public schools and with a pilot program beginning next year at Temple University, the program has been more of a UPenn gift, covering office space and staff, professor compensation and teacher stipends, than a true partnership. Negotiations now in process offer a renewal of TIP’s partnership agreement with the School District of Philadelphia and a small funding contribution already budgeted. As a three-time Yale Fellow and five-time UPenn Fellow (my curriculum unit summaries are attached), I applaud and celebrate the District’s recognition of this high-value, relatively low-in-cost, unique resource and look for our continued determination to provide our fair share. And, of course, it goes without saying, that restoration of our professionally-staffed school libraries would enhance not just the development and utilization of TIP curriculum units, but the reading levels and joy in their development to which every one of our youngsters is so clearly entitled. Thank you. (Supporting research here referenced).

Something to Shout About: New research shows that more librarians means higher reading scores


The cover story by Keith and Linda Hofschire  in the September 2011 issue of School Library Journal reported on a new ground-breaking study.  Using federal data on the 50 states and DC, they examined the relationship between pre- and post-recession change in school library staffing and change in fourth grade reading scores. Not only was the fate of reading scores tied to that of school library staffing, but the relationship remained when change in overall school staffing was taken into account.

This article documents the fact that inferior gains or losses on reading scores were the prevailing fate of states in which schools cut librarian positions.