By Dorcas Hand
In November, we at SNL read the Legislative Budget Board (LBB) Report (Cited at the end of this post.). In addition to the many issues mentioned, Carly Brown noted this table (Fig. 6, p.12) which details by percentage who in the Texas State Legislature is responsible to voters in HISD.
If you want to read the section about HISD school libraries, pages 59-61 will give you the details.
I quote the LBB opening paragraph here: “The district lacks a process to ensure that its libraries’ budget, staff, collection size, and collection age align with public school library standards. These standards provide students at different campuses with variable access to high-quality library services. Campus principals have full discretion over staffing and budgets for campus libraries, resulting in inconsistent campus-level library services. Some campus principals choose to offer high quality campus libraries staffed with certified librarians, and other campuses have inadequate or nonexistent library services.”
And towards the end of the section, “Nationwide, research suggests that reading, writing, and graduation rates improve where campuses employ certified school librarians. TSLAC’s 2001 analysis of school libraries in Texas, presented in the publication Texas School Libraries: Standards, Resources, Services, and Students’ Performance, determined that school libraries have a measurable impact on student achievement. At the elementary school and middle school levels, approximately 4.0 percent of the variance in state test scores was attributed to school libraries; that percentage more than doubled to 8.2 percent at the high school level. Library variables, including library staffing and items per student, outweighed the effects of other campus variables, including computers per student, teacher experience, and even teacher turnover ratio.”
Back to the list of our representatives. Yes, we have our elected local School Board – but we are facing a potential state takeover, in which case our state representatives need to be more aware of what’s happening here at home. These are the people we vote into office, and on whom we rely to support our schools at the state level. SNL suggests that you the voters begin to write your representatives about the state of school libraries in Houston ISD. Tell them what you want to see. And tell your school board representative and HISD administrators from campus to Dr. Lathan that you are doing this.
SNL will start sending letters like what we send to the school board, letters that illustrate the power strong school libraries can have to improve student success. Join us! The list of their emails and phone numbers can be found on this Contact List.
Downing, Margaret. “Not to Pile It On But the Texas Legislative Budget Board Assessed HISD and It’s Not Good News” (Houston Press, Nov.8, 2019)
Legislative Budget Board. “Houston Independent School District Management and Performance Review” (November 2019)
This blog is primarily authored by Debbie Hall and Dorcas Hand, but guest authors are welcome. If you have an idea to share, please contact our email below. Debbie is a retired HISD librarian and Library Services Specialist. Dorcas is a retired school librarian who remains active in AASL/ALA. Both support increased equity in school library access and support for all HISD students and campuses.