Barbara McDowell Dowdall testimony transcript for the SRC meeting of July 6, 2017

Barbara Dowdall SRC 7-6-17
Click the picture to view the SRC meeting and go to 50:00 to view Barbara’s testimony.

Remarks to the School Reform Commission and Dr. William Hite

July 6, 2017

Best Education Research

I speak today as a daughter, niece, sister-in-law, colleague and friend of [both branch and certified teacher] librarians. I speak as a lifelong patron of community and school libraries, as a teacher, and as a parent. I speak as a person who values and utilizes technology within and in the service of libraries. I include with my remarks [links] to material in support of libraries [in schools] procured from [available on] the worldwide web. [Best Education Research referenced above] I come to express concern about [the disappearance of] libraries in schools – including my present location [A. Philip Randolph Career Tech High School], my elementary school [Fitler], my junior high now middle school [now elementary school, Roosevelt], [for the last four years, my high school, Girls’] and all other schools suffering cuts in staff and resources….

In my growing up years, the Free Library was a refuge, an oasis, a portal to adventure. My summer reading club certificates are among my most prized possessions. My children benefited from a similar program at the Friends Free Library in Germantown and from Philadelphia Free Library borrowings throughout their formative years. Every school they attended, K through 12, had a fully functioning library. I have not the least doubt that access to a wealth of reading material [provided with the guidance of a certified teacher librarian] contributed directly to their academic success through high school into college and beyond. I want for my students no less than the blessings my children enjoyed, and I am sure this is the case for you [and your family] as well.

Excerpts of my Remarks to the SRC, CEO Paul Vallas and CAO Dr. Gregory Thornton, May 18, 2005. [Updates in brackets]

Every SRC and school district top administrator to follow has shown dedication to the goal of expunging the existence and memory of professionally-staffed and fully-resourced school libraries from the lives of our Philadelphia youngsters. Our students deserve and need the real deal, not a conglomeration of anything buts.

Barbara McDowell Dowdall              English Department Head (Retired)

A Philip Randolph Career Tech High School

Daughter of Janet Adler McDowell, Head of Falls of Schuylkill Branch Library 1968-78

Member of the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools (APPS)

Schools need libraries (this week in the Philadelphia Inquirer letters)

I support any literacy initiatives in our schools, but I was struck by the irony of the Philadelphia School District’s 2017 Early Literacy Summer Institute, in which teachers are taught the best methods to get students to read on grade level.

One of the most basic tools for literacy is a school library, yet the district has eliminated most of its libraries and professional librarians. A full-time, certified librarian in each school would support, on a daily basis, the initiatives taught in these workshops and be a valuable resource to every student. Funding engaging libraries, managed by equally engaged, certified librarians, is a necessary investment for any school district truly committed to literacy.

|Regina Jones, Drexel Hill
Letter to Philadelphia Inquirer

The Value of School Libraries | Barbara Stripling – Director of the School Library System NYC

School Libraries – The American Library Association

School Libraries Make a Difference | ilovelibraries 

Research Supports Value of School Libraries | Letter in Education Week

The Value of School Libraries | Stephen’s Lighthouse

School Librarians: Assessing the Unassessable | New York Times

Google search on school libraries 
• Provided in print form to the SRC commissioners and superintendent

Click here to see a flyer about school library impact.