Barbara Dowdell SRC testimony – November 19, 2015

Barbara Dowdall SRC 11-19-15

Remarks to the School Reform Commission November 19, 2015 with supplemental information not included in the testimony.

Barbara McDowell Dowdall

[Background: A recent news story in the Philadelphia press entitled “It’s elementary: Classrooms need Libraries” reported that the William Penn Foundation and the Lenfest* Foundation are providing book collections to elementary school classrooms. The donations were accompanied by a citywide media extravaganza that included politicians (Mayor-elect Jim Kenney) and other prominent Philadelphians fanning out across Clara Barton classrooms and providing multiple photo ops of these citizens reading to children. Both the headline and the article itself gave a strong (but erroneous) impression that these schools had now been gifted with the restoration of their abandoned and unstaffed libraries.

*H.F. Gerry Lenfest is owner of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News.]

I am a retired English Department Head from A. Philip Randolph Career Technical High School (Randolph was a proud Socialist and name sake of two of my family members – brother and nephew). I’m also, according to the letter** I received from Dr. Hite, I am an “exceptional educator,” and I thank you for that, a member of the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools as well.

The wording of Resolution A-19 (some of it) reads: The School District of Philadelphia analyzes multiple sources of data to drive strategic, systemic decision-making for accountability and continuous improvement at each school and for the system as a whole.

 Using that criteria, why are we taking donated books… the superintendent would realize…that putting donated books (public relations and tax deduction enrichment for the donors) on shelves in elementary school classrooms does not constitute providing properly-resourced school libraries staffed by certified librarian teachers. I only list two of our near suburbs, Cheltenham and Radnor, but I expect that others would be similarly enriched along with any school those of us present in this room this evening would certainly want and in fact may have secured for our own children, and have the power and resources to guarantee, we would do so. Do not the children attending Philadelphia public schools, including and especially the three you are moving to toss aside (Cooke, Wister and Huey) deserve these real, not ersatz, libraries?

On a personal note, while I appreciate the signing service at SRC meetings, some hearing impaired individuals, like my grandson, just turned two, would be well served by close captioning –when he learns to read!

And I thank you for this letter of invitation back ** but I would not work for less money and with no protections.

** [indicating copy of letter sent to retirees requesting their assistance in solving the Source4Teachers debacle]

Amendment of Acceptance Period of Grant from the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation; Contracts with EdPro Consulting, LLC, EdBuild, Bell Creek Consulting, Education Pioneers, Sway Design Corporation

Description: The System of Great Schools Process is the process by which The School District of Philadelphia analyzes multiple sources of data to drive strategic, systemic decision-making for accountability and continuous improvement at each school and for the system as a whole. Support from the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation will provide resources to support the data analysis portion of this work, as well as resources to support ongoing documentation, publication, and outreach efforts aligned with this work.

Research on School Libraries

PA School Library Project   Tags: institute of museum and library services, pennsylvania, school libraries, school library advocacy, school library research

A school library research project funded by the U.S. Institute of Museum and L

New PA Study Shows Full-time School Librarian Boosts Student Achievement

Reading and Writing Scores Raised on PSSA Tests for All Student Groups

Having access to a full-time, certified school librarian means better outcomes for Pennsylvania’s public school students, according to a new research from the Colorado-based RSL Research Group.

Cheltenham School Libraries

Cheltenham High School » J. W. Rodgers Library

The mission of the Joseph W. Rodgers Library is to ensure that all students and staff have the skills and opportunity to access, evaluate, and use information and to support the district curricula and the Pennsylvania Academic Standards. The library media center strives to be the intellectual center of the high school linking the school community to an ever wider circle of literature, knowledge, and information.

The only true equalizers in this world are books; the only treasure-house open to all comers is a library; the only wealth which will not decay is knowledge; the only jewel which you can carry beyond the grave is wisdom.
–  J. A. Langford

Welcome to the Elkins Park School Library

The Elkins Park Library is geared to meet the specific needs of students, staff and families of the Elkins Park Community. Please feel free to use any of the trusted sources listed below and under the “Elkins Park School Library” title in the navigation window.

Welcome to the Cedarbrook Middle School Library

215.881.6427 ext. 4055


“The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

 – Dr. Seuss, “I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!”

About the Radnor High School Library

Library Rules and Policies   Radnor Township Selection Policy

ALA Library Bill of Rights


The library media center is central to the learning process occurring in schools. Its program is designed to produce students who are information literate. Information literate students are effective users of information in a variety of formats. The school library media center is the vehicle that provides opportunities for students to attain information literacy and to foster a lifelong interest in acquiring knowledge while following their passions. A student-centered program is dependent upon a school librarian assuming a pivotal role in working collaboratively with teachers, administrators, and others direct to the program.


The school library media program in the Radnor Township School District will prepare students for their roles in the technology-driven global community of the 21st century by teaching students to find and use information efficiently and effectively. The library program will help students develop lifelong reading and learning skills and the motivation to take responsibility for their own learning.

RTSD Libraries

If our children are ready for their future, it will be because they have learned to resourcefully use their information environment, to help themselves learn what they need to know, to do what they need to do, when they need to do it.   -David F. Warlick, Redefining Literacy


Main Line Media News (   Main Line Suburban Life > News

Digital Citizenship: Radnor school librarians teach students about internet footprint

Friday, April 24, 2015   By Linda Stein   @lsteinreporter on Twitter

“All information online becomes part of their permanent digital footprint,” Michelle Wetzel, librarian at Radnor High School, said.

RADNOR >> Students these days need to know how to safely navigate the Internet.

A program in the Radnor Township School District aimed to help is being presented by librarians to all grade levels.

Michelle Wetzel, librarian at Radnor High School, spoke to school board curriculum committee on April 21 about the Digital Citizenship program that all district librarians are certified in.

“The digital citizenship curriculum helps students thrive in a world of media and technology,” said Wetzel. Knowing how to safely navigate the Web is “an essential skill,” she said. Through the program, “students learn how to make safe, smart and ethical decisions.”

Some of the units include cyberbullying, internet safety and copyright infringement, she said. Other information includes one’s digital footprint and reputation can be affected by posts on social media.

“All information online becomes part of their permanent digital footprint,” Wetzel said. As such, it can be searched and discovered by others, such as colleges or potential employers.

Students are “taught to build a positive online presence,” and to “create, tag, and share in a positive way.”

“All the lessons are based on Common Sense Media’s Digital Citizenship curriculum,” she said. The curriculum is taught by librarians during library time or in social studies for 7th and 8th graders, she said.

At the high school, it’s taught in 9th and 10th health classes and to junior and seniors in context of research projects, she said.

Other advice included creating strong passwords and being careful about personal information that is submitted online.

As for cyber-bullying, students learn that “cruelty can escalate quickly online” because people are often anonymous. Other information in the curriculum includes who to research topics effectively, and what sources are reliable. They also learn about fair use of materials and how to create citations. The curriculum is from the nonprofit organization

“This is the second full school year in which the district’s librarians have presented a formalized Digital Citizenship curriculum to students,” said Michael Petitti, a spokesman for the district. “Various lessons and assemblies on the subject have been presented to students for several years.”

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