by Dorcas Hand
Feb 25, 2023
Dear Mr. House and HISD Administration,
Students need Libraries in HISD has just sent individual letters to the School Board expressing our support for your decisions to reconstitute HISD Library Services this school year. It was a bold and exciting decision, and we wanted to be sure the Board is aware of the impact to students across the district, and specifically in their own districts. The data is also posted to our website.
The letter they received is below, not in italics.
Students Need Libraries (SNL) has been watching with excitement the changes in HISD Library Services as our students across the district get the library resources consistently. We commend you, Superintendent House and Officer Adrian Acosta of the Academic Instructional Technology Department for your collective leadership to reconstitute the central Library Services Department in support of all the campus libraries. We thought you would appreciate an update to the data we have offered SB members for the last 5 years, data that reflects the changes in campus services. We will also post this data to our website.
We can now say that 88% (228 campuses) have certified teachers or librarians (certified teachers with additional library certification) staffing the campus library. That is compared to 48% (132 campuses) last year. And only 24 campuses (9%) have no library services now, compared to 93 campuses (34%) last year. To put a finer point on this, 228 campuses with services and only 9 without for 2022-2023 compared to 132 with and 93 without in 2021-22.
Please keep in mind these points about HISD Library Services and schools within its control when reading the following two-year comparison table:
The HISD Library Services Department, led by Len Bryan, is working with all these library staff whether they are new to the library, new to the district, or experienced HISD librarians. They are building a team across the district, a team connected by feeder pattern, by grade level served, and by Board district to collaborate to the benefit of all your students. The combinations of staff, active library facilities, and the influx of ESSER-funded books supports students to love reading and learning.
We know that [Board Members] look at the campuses in [their] own district, so we also offer [these tables] of staffing by [district and] campus to help you with those details. We hope that you will stop by these libraries to see the energy and enthusiasm that is clear from students and staff. We know because we have also been stopping by to help the library staff move the old books no longer suited for circulation off the shelves and floors to let the new books shine.
SNL remains ready to support the libraries in any way that Library Services finds useful. We follow their lead, because they are implementing district goals.
Students Need Libraries in HISD
by Debbie Hall
We believe in the power of books to change lives.
We believe that all students need access to books and that a zip code or school campus should not determine access to libraries.
We believe that Superintendent Millard House has a plan to improve HISD schools and he should be allowed to follow through with his vision.
We believe our school board is focused on the best interests of students.
We believe that a TEA takeover is an unwarranted power grab.
The two problems identified as problematic (school board and Wheatley) have been resolved. Also evidence shows that school takeovers do not provide an effective solution.
Now is the time to let HISD leaders focus on the task at hand.
Our Students Need Libraries In HISD advocacy group believes that our elected officials represent the best interests of the students, the schools, and the community. We are appalled by the actions of the TEA and know that this cloud hanging over the school district must end.
We believe in our board and our new superintendent, Millard House. We would like our readers to know that we have written letters to the editor of the Houston Chronicle to document that support. We have also written to the Chronicle education reporter, Rebecca Carballos, in support of HISD's position.
There are numerous articles documenting the failure of school takeovers to fix problems in schools. Here are just a few:
Let the HISD leadership move forward to improve the education of all students. TEA needs to mark this matter resolved.
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.