Testimony of Barbara McDowell Dowdall to the BOE, February 25, 2021
Welcome new board members Ms. Salley, Mr. Streater, and longtime advocate colleague Ms. Thompson.
Key Library Data: Every member of the current Philadelphia Board of Education, I dare to assume, enjoyed the resources of school libraries with Certified Teacher Librarians in their K-12 learning journeys. Two new board members have witnessed the closure of our own college prep Girls’ High School library going on eight years ago. Another new member may have experienced sorrow as his and my younger brother’s entire Germantown High School suffered permanent closure in the same shameful era. Germantown High alum board member’s youngsters’ C.W. Henry School library was converted to a lunchroom not long after my now high school junior great niece’s 2nd grade class enjoyed their teacher’s traditional family-invited Valentine Party in that once reading-rich space. Data shows that economically disadvantaged children of color in Pennsylvania benefit most from having this resource — and are most likely to lack it. At least two of the four schools of 200 plus in this district managing to cling to their librarians are schools with higher than average white populations. Only this board can take the steps, starting today, to bring back the treasured, essential and joy inspiring resource that alone will provide, for satisfaction of the “data-driven,” those cold and at base, unrevealing numbers found in standardized test scores. Denied libraries, these students might well be labeled “off track.”
Just web search for Nancy E. Bailey, school libraries online:
Ignoring the importance of school libraries and certified librarians delegitimizes any “Science” of Reading. Children need books, reading material, and real librarians in public schools. If reading instruction doesn’t lead to reading and learning from books, what’s the point? Why should children care about decoding words if there’s no school library where they can browse and choose reading material that matters? To them!
You might even call having a properly-resourced library with a Certified Teacher Librarian a “leading indicator!”