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Celebrating the news from Vermont!

During National Library Month, it’s so lovely to celebrate a victory for children and that the hard work of advocacy can pay off.

VSLA President, Denise Wentz, just wrote to share the following great news in advance of my visit to the the Vermont Dynamic Learning Landscapes Conference.

I am very happy to finally announce that the Education Quality Standards were approved and have gone into effect for the state of Vermont.  As part of the administrative rulemaking process, the rules went before the Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules, and were approved by the Secretary of State’s Office. The rules officially went into effect on April 5, 2014.

As you may recall the original draft excluded any mention of the word “library or librarian.”  VSLA (Vermont School Library Association) went into action and worked to get the library program reinstated in the document.  We met with the Secretary of Education, the State Board of Education, sponsored a statewide postcard activity and went to all three hearings about the document across the state.

It is not exactly the wording we suggested but we are thrilled nonetheless to be put back into the document after being deleted and to have a ruling that keeps the library program in Vermont schools.

Here is a link to the document.  

I have copied the parts that pertain to the library program for you.  

2121.2 Staff

The services of a certified library media specialist shall be made available to students and staff. Schools with over 300 students shall have at least one full-time library media specialist and sufficient staff to implement a program that supports literacy, information and technology standards. Schools with fewer than 300 students shall employ a library media specialist on a pro-rata basis.

2122.2 Access to Instructional Materials

Each school shall: 

b. develop, maintain, and expand as needed a collection of print, digital and technology resources, administered by a certified library media specialist; 

e. provide students access to the library on a regular basis to use materials for reading, research, and for instruction in the skills needed to select and use information effectively; 

i. support a schedule that provides opportunities for a library media specialist to collaborate with teachers as they integrate information research skills into their curriculum;

The document even states that the schools must comply to the rules of the document or get a waiver from the State Board of Education.

2127 Variance and Waiver 

Upon written request of a school board, and after opportunity for hearing, the State Board of Education may approve an alternative method for meeting the requirements of these rules when 

a. the alternative method is consistent with the intent of the rule; 

b. the variance permits the school board to carry out locally-established objectives; and 

c. the granting of the variance does not contravene any state or federal law, any federal regulation, or any rule of any state agency other than the State Board of 

Education, unless such rules themselves permit the granting of a waiver or variance.

Denise shared that she hopes that Vermont’s grassroots campaign to keep library programs in schools can be a positive sign for other states in similar situations.

Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza

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