This letter describes how school librarians are an important part of K-12 education. It is written from the viewpoint of MEMO, but language here can be customized to local situations.
Dear Minnesota State Senator or Representative:
The Minnesota Education Media Organization (MEMO) is the professional organization for school library media specialists, technology integrationists, and technology coordinators in Minnesota. We would like to introduce ourselves to you so that you are aware of the work we do in our schools and the positive impact we have on Minnesota student achievement.
We know you are facing very difficult decisions during this legislative session as you work to develop policies, programs, and a state budget that is sustainable for Minnesota’s economic climate. As you consider Minnesota’s priorities, we look to you to ensure Minnesota’s education system continues to produce students who are prepared to succeed in a 21st century global economy.
MEMO members work in public schools, private schools, and charter schools throughout the state. Studies conducted in 19 states conducted over the past 20 years have demonstrated how school libraries have had a positive impact on student achievement in reading and other content areas. In addition, a school library program that is sufficiently staffed with a licensed professional, resourced with materials aligned to curriculum, and adequately funded can lead not only to student achievement gains, but also builds critical information and learning skills needed by today’s students.
School libraries are the center of information literacy and 21st century skills. Research tells us our students need to be critical thinkers, proficient communicators, effective collaborators, and creative, life-long learners. Our members teach students to be effective and ethical users of information. We build literacy through promoting reading , teaching effective research practices, and stimulating the curiosity of our students to master core academic content at a deep level. Difficult economic circumstances in the past few years, however, have meant that many school districts have found it necessary to cut school libraries, technology resources, and staff in order to maintain operation with continually shrinking revenues.
We are critical partners to student success. As you do your difficult work this legislative session, please remember that Minnesota’s education system needs your support, both through sound fiscal practices in school funding and through education policies that support our students. A strong K-12 education system is essential to Minnesota’s ability to establish a healthy economic climate for business and industry and to remain globally competitive. School libraries are the foundation of such a system.
We invite you to learn more about us and the work we do. Please visit us at http://www.memo.org. We are attaching our 2011 Legislative Platform and some additional resources relating to the critical nature of school libraries and education technology for your information.
Thank you for all the hard work you do on behalf of Minnesota citizens. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.