Librarians should not be quiet about school funding. School libraries are an equity indicator of any school and school librarians are well aware of it. They are also aware that the chronic underfunding of schools affects more than just the school libraries, it affects every aspect of public school. Right now we are facing serious cuts to existing librarians in Seattle public schools just when we are heavily advocating for more librarians so that all elementary schools can have full time, instead of half time, librarians. We are also advocating for equitable funding to buy books, as apportioned by the WA state legislature; $20 per student should go directly to every school library budget. Unfortunately, we seem to be headed in the wrong direction. Librarians should not be bystanders as this situation passes by, we should be making noise. It is perfectly appropriate.
This is an opportunity to let the public know about the power of the library.
Suppose the Seattle Education Association (SEA) Representative Assembly (RA) votes next week in favor of the New Business Item (NBI), a resolution, inviting school librarians to walk out, rally and/or hold a press conference/panel discussion about school funding from the school library point of view with the full support of our union? How could we use this to advocate for libraries and better funding for schools? Seattle seems to display consistent and tremendous community support for libraries; it is an emotional issue for many citizens. But not everyone sees or understands the actual impact that libraries have on schools. If we staged a one day walk out we would be bringing the stories from our schools about what would be missing from the school day for that one day. This is an opportunity to relate our narrative to a broad audience while advocating for full funding for all schools and explain the lobbying and advocacy we do at all levels of the education system, from classroom to school board to Olympia. This is an opportunity to let the public know about the power of the library.
At the same time we face these budget cuts we are facing upcoming contract negotiations. Teachers have been rising up across the country and have been winning at the bargaining tables. A walk out of a specific set of specialists, when fully supported by each school community and the union as a whole, sends the message that we are tired of fooling around with this endless budget shortfall. A walk out will signal that we are ready to apply increasing pressure and are ready to strike to get the best contract so that we can give our students what they deserve, an excellent education.
Librarians have been sidelined for too long, especially when they are so important. Librarians are the built in alternative for any school, giving any school the ability to adapt to any individual. Libraries are the heart and soul of education and librarians are what makes it all tick.