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Press Release: President’s FY2011 budget proposals calls for cuts to school library

WASHINGTON, D.C. – President Obama’s FY2011 Budget Proposal to Congress released today included a $400 billion investment into education but did not include specific funds for school libraries. Additionally, the budget called for a consolidation of the funds for the Improving Literacy Through School Libraries Program, which takes the funds out of reach for most school libraries.

“This Administration says it wants to focus on programs that are effective, but it has not only recommended policy that will keep school libraries underfunded, but it will also eliminate funds for a program that the Department of Education has evaluated twice and found to be effective both times,” American Association of School Libraries (AASL) President Cassandra Barnett said. AASL is a division of the American Library Association (ALA).

In January 2009, the Department of Education released the Second Evaluation of the Improving Literacy Through School Libraries Program, which indicated that students attending schools participating in this program are performing higher on state reading tests than students in schools that do not take part in the program.

Additionally, the study stated that in schools that participated in the program in 2003-04, the percentage of students who met or exceeded the proficiency requirements on state reading assessments increased by an extra 2.7 percentage points over the increase observed among nonparticipating schools during the same time period.

“In his State of the Union Address, President Obama stated that ‘In the 21st century, one of the best anti-poverty programs is a world-class education.’ Yet, the President’s budget neglects funding for a program that provides the type of learning experiences that develop the critical thinking and collaborative skills that are key to global competiveness,” Barnett said.

“School library programs focus on the skills that prepare students to be independent learners capable of assessing and recognizing their personal strengths and weaknesses thus graduating college or career ready. A world-class, 21st century education includes instruction from a school librarian – a teacher who knows the school’s curriculum and effective techniques necessary to cross disciplines and integrate information and technology literacy. Yet, Obama’s budget and policy proposals neglect to support the role of school librarians and, as a result, too many of our nation’s schools will not have school librarians or essential school library programs.”

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