To the Editor:
In response to Eric Schaps’ Commentary “Missing in Action: The Non-Role of Research in Policy and Practice” (Nov. 5, 2008):
None of the author’s findings on the use and misuse of research in education comes as a surprise to school librarians. There have been numerous studies performed across the country that clearly demonstrate the importance of a school library program, one funded and staffed by a certified teacher-librarian. Many examples of such research can be found on the Web site of the Library Research Service, a unit of the Colorado State Library and the Colorado Department of Education.
A school library program integrated into the curriculum is the second-highest indicator of academic success (after the socioeconomic status of students’ families), yet schools struggling to make adequate yearly progress under the federal No Child Left Behind Act still cut the library. If we actually were to act on the research, every school would have a library with a certified librarian, a current print collection, online subscriptions, adequate technology, and flexible scheduling so that all children could have regular access.
There is something we can do about this: contact congressional representatives and ask them to support the Strengthening Kids’ Interest in Learning and Libraries, or SKILLS, Act, which would require a highly qualified school library media specialist in every school under the reauthorized No Child Left Behind law. As the research shows, it will make a big difference.
G.A. Stetson Middle School
West Chester, Pa.
A version of this article appeared in the December 03, 2008 edition of Education Week as School Libraries: An Ignored Indicator of Academic Success