Urgent Call to Action from ILA

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 “The Iowa Board of Education Examiners (BOEE) has proposed reductions to the credit hour requirements for endorsements for certain teachers, including School Librarians. ILA is concerned, and has expressed that concern in a letter to the BOEE, with these reductions. The reductions are from 36 credit hours to 24 credit hours and would cause a drop in the quality of education across the state. We want the BOEE and the legislature to maintain the current version of endorsements.”

 


From ILA/ACRL President Liz Riordan:

It’s been known for years, and several studies have shown*, that quality library programs in our K-12 schools has a positive effect on student achievement. As academic librarians, we understand the impact the presence of a skilled librarian can have on a student’s work in the classroom. In times where we find ourselves constantly fighting misinformation, we understand the absolute necessity of having prepared and skilled librarians teaching our K-12 students the importance of information use and ethics.

 

The Iowa Board of Education Examiners (BOEE) want to reduce the credit hour requirements for endorsements for certain teachers, including School Librarians. Ask yourselves what this would mean to the quality of education across our state. In an age where there is so much information readily available at our fingertips, it is essential to have highly-trained school librarians  who can teach Iowa’s children the skills they need to critically assess information and develop the thinking skills they will need moving forward in their educational and professional pursuits.

 

As academic librarians, we need to work to maintain and improve our quality of education in Iowa so that our students are prepared to take on the challenges of the 21st century. That is why ILA/ACRL is asking for you to take time and follow these steps laid out by ILA. Contrary to popular belief, librarians can make lots of noise, and when we are loud enough, we make an impact. So please, take time to contact the BOEE Members and ARRC Members who will impact this decision. Make yourself heard.


“The next step in the process for these changes happens in the legislature’s Administrative Rules Review Committee (ARRC). We, as members, need to tell the members of the ARRC to maintain current endorsements and requirements and not lower them. By doing this, we are putting pressure on our legislators and making our voices heard so it is harder for these changes to happen. 

 

The ARRC is meeting on February 7th at 9 AM at the Iowa State Capitol. The ARRC is going to be considering these changes even before the BOEE approves them so we need to target both groups, the BOEE and the ARRC. Below you will find information about the members of each group and a template of what you can say in your phone calls, emails, letters, meetings, etc. 

 

Our wonderful lobbyists, Craig Patterson and Amy Campbell, are working on this with us and keeping us apprised of changes and ways of making our voices heard even more. 

 

So what can you do? Here's what we suggest:

Step 1: Contact the BOEE Members

 

The email addresses of the BOEE members can be found here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1ODK1kBEEX3oaCPtUTEEePZbR5ZVmvcREdebcFVguwuQ/edit?usp=sharing. Please email members of the BOEE prior to February 6th to allow members time to read before their meeting. 

 

Step 2: Contact the ARRC Members

The members can be found here along with their contact information: https://www.legis.iowa.gov/committees/committee?endYear=2020&groupID=705

 

Sample Letter from the ILA Board:

Dear Iowa Board of Educational Examiners:

The Board of the Iowa Library Association (ILA) has carefully reviewed the impact of the proposed reductions to the credit hour requirements for the All Science, All Social Studies, All English, Teacher Librarian, and All Business endorsements as reported during the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners meeting on October 25, 2019, in the Discussion Memo titled “Amend AJC 282 Chapters 13, 15, 18, 22.” We are writing to express our concern with these proposed cuts. The proposed reductions to these endorsements, from 36 credit hours to 24 credit hours, would be detrimental to the quality of education across Iowa. It is important to maintain the present version of endorsements.

School librarians are currently expected to provide a high-quality of services, frequently in many schools and across districts. Any reduction in credit hours in these content areas would provide poorly prepared school librarians with little more than an introductory knowledge to library services needed to support young learners. This would directly and adversely impact student learning. All students should have access to high quality K-12 education, including school libraries which will allow them to develop an in-depth understanding of all subjects and develop key skills that will serve them throughout their educational and professional lives. Iowa’s PK-12 students need highly trained educators if they are to become the leaders our State needs for a strong future. The diminution of the endorsement’s content requirement would limit the extent to which our school librarians would be able to provide high-quality education and therefore harm students and their overall learning throughout their school careers.

ILA is committed to addressing the persistent and commanding challenges confronting schools and libraries all over Iowa. The proposed changes will not assist us in confronting these critical challenges. We respectfully request that the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners carefully consider the impact of any possible changes on the curriculum leading to licensure as a highly qualified educator, and to establish a clear understanding of how these proposed reductions would impact the future of our youth.

Thank you for listening to our concerns regarding the proposed reductions in credit hours to the All Science, All Social Studies, All English, Teacher Librarian, and All Business endorsements. As members of a profession who work to prepare young learners and work with current practitioners across the State, we appreciate the opportunity to share insights based upon our experience working in the field.

* Scholastic. (2016). School libraries work! A compendium of research supporting the effectiveness of school libraries. www.scholastic.com/slw2016

 

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