COLA Letter to East Greenwich School Committee

October 4, 2017

Dear Superintendent  Mercurio, and Ms. Carolyn Mark and EG School Committee Members:

I am writing to you as Chair of the Rhode Island Coalition of Library Advocates. As a grassroots organization supporting all libraries, we are disheartened by the fact that East Greenwich High School has not hired a school library media specialist while EGHS students are in need of information media and digital literacy instruction by their library media specialist in order to be prepared for college research using scholarly resources. EGHS students do not have equitable access to school library media resources as required by law, RI’s Basic Education Plan (BEP) Chapter 13.

School library media programs need certified library media teachers, staff, and budgets for high quality instruction in digital media and information literacy with equitable access to resources for increased student achievement. In a college preparatory high school, students should be taught how to locate, access, synthesize, and evaluate reliable information and to be able to distinguish between what is fact from false or biased information. I have outlined below why it is imperative that EGHS students have their school library open with the services of a high school library media specialist with instruction and equitable access to resources.

Effective school library media programs meet research-based standards. They are staffed by certified school library media specialists—teachers who empower students to be critical thinkers, enthusiastic readers, skillful researchers, and ethical users of information. They ensure that all students have equitable access to resources and receive instruction in information literacy with opportunities: 1. to read widely for lifelong learning; 2. to access, evaluate, use, and share new knowledge using a variety of information resources (print, visual, media, and digital); 3. to problem-solve using diverse sources, contexts, disciplines, and cultural perspectives; and 4. to use information ethically by respecting others’ ideas and acknowledging their contributions. (See RI Law: BEP G-13-1.3.11)

Moreover, the school library media specialist in the high school can increase access to personalized, rigorous learning experiences supported by instruction in technology and providing equitable resources for all students. Research has demonstrated that effective school library media programs improve student achievement if libraries are fully staffed and provide resources aligned to the curriculum as identified in School Libraries Work! http://www.scholastic.com/SLW2016/ (See Report).

I urge East Greenwich Public School Department under the leadership of the Superintendent and School Committee to ensure compliance with RI’s BEP Chapter 13 so all EGHS students have access to their library media resources with instruction by a certified school library media specialist. EGHS is no longer in compliance with NEASC accreditation standards with the elimination of the high school library media specialist and a loss of accreditation would be detrimental to EGHS students.

Thank you in advance for consideration of this request to reinstate a high school library media specialist. If you have any questions, you may reach me at my email address: chermc@uri.edu.

Sincerely yours,

Dr. Cheryl A. McCarthy
Chair of RI Coalition of Library Advocates

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