D.C. Parents gathered outside the Mayor’s Office on Wednesday, July 11th to protest the cuts of school librarians in schools with fewer than 300 students. The DCPS budget has also changed librarians to “discretionary staff” and schools must use their flexible allotment to fund librarians. This means that 57 schools and 16,000 students will be without a librarian this fall. The Capitol Hill Public Schools Parents Organization (CHPSPO) organized the protest to tell “the Mayor and Chancellor that school librarians are not expendable!,” said Founder Suzanne Wells.
From 8:00 am to 11:00 a.m. DCPS students and parents protested outside of the Wilson Building on Pennsylvania Avenue while selling baked goods, accepting donations and garnering signatures for a petition demanding:
- Budget a librarian in every school (at least ½ time in smaller schools).
- Move librarian position to core staff category (not flexible/optional).
- Provide a “per student” budget allocation for books/materials.
- Make DCPS budget more transparent!
To date, $346 has been raised in support of DCPS libraries in addition to hundreds of letters and a petition including over 100 signatures have been sent to the Mayor and Chancellor in recent weeks.
Parents are also protesting librarian cuts at the Chancellor’s State of the Schools meetings in Wards throughout the District. As stated on the CHPSPO website, “Parents are drawing upon educational research showing that librarians and school libraries are significant factors in promoting literacy and improving reading scores, particularly among children in poverty.”
‘What can be more fundamental to a child’s education and overall health than his or her ability to read? We demand that the Mayor and Chancellor reinstate funds so that all schools will have a librarian and that all children will have access to an essential part of their education,” said Dr. Robert Zarr, D.C. pediatrician and father of a Pre-Kindergartner.
Anthony Allard, PTA president of Ludlow-Taylor stated, “Educating our children is something everyone in our city can support. The Mayor says that education is his priority and the Chancellor says that she wants to make schools better for every child. Having a librarian at every school is their chance to put their money where their mouth is!”
By: Emmelie De La Cruz