Highlighting one student’s call for school library advocacy January 18, 2012Posted by Wendy Stephens in Advocacy.
An Ohio high school senior tasked with a school reform assignment turned his attention to the ongoing crisis in school libraries. Jonathon Royâ€™s research assignment for language arts teacher Jessica Gerber at Mount Gilead High School uncovered the body of research affirming the value of well-trained school librarians and includes a plan to fill a mandate for highly qualified school librarians.
The entire class crafted research project and presentations on topics related to school reform. While other students tackled issues like GLBT rights and school uniform policies, Jonathon chose to highlight the plight of school librarians in the era of drastic budget cuts. He turned up more than sixty studies demonstrating the clear relationship between school libraries and student achievement.
Jonathon, who has helped in the library at his school since his sophomore year and participates in the Philosophy Club organized by librarian Deb Logan, stresses that his local program is different from what many might expect. His schoolâ€™s program focuses on skills like determining the credibility of online sources and how to properly formulate citations, the sort of integrated instruction which Jonathon found typifies todayâ€™s school libraries. Jonathon emphasizes that these are â€œhelpful thing you will actually use.â€
His research included a polling component using SurveyMonkey, seeking input from his respondents about their experiences with and attitudes towards libraries. Jonathon found many adults and student arenâ€™t aware of the dire predicaments many libraries find themselves in and donâ€™t realize the instructional potential of school libraries.
Jonathon’s paper concludes with an action plan for shifting textbook and other monies to fund credentialed librarians in every building. He provided a link to the latest White House petition for his classmates on a bookmark in a call for student advocacy. â€œAs students, we should get more involved and stand out and say we really enjoy the library and not let it fall through the cracks,â€ said Jonathon, who was captain of the cross country team this year and is active in Mount Gilead High Schoolâ€™s theater program and show choir. He has not chosen a college yet but plans on studying psychology.