Washington ranks 32nd in school library staffing because of a loophole in law 28A.320.240 that requires strong school library programs staffed by teacher-librarians “as the board deems necessary.” This allows districts to utilize library funding for nonlibrary programs, harming students and cutting off a program that is an essential part of public education.
Research shows students with access to strong school library programs implemented by qualified teacher-librarians have better academic outcomes and are more prepared for college and career. This is especially true of students impacted by poverty or who live in multilingual households. You can view some of that research at bit.ly/K12Librarians4AllWA.
Washington’s investment in educational technology coupled with the increase of mis- and disinformation online makes these programs even more essential for all our learners. School libraries also provide a space for vulnerable students. These programs go far beyond books on shelves — they are comprehensive programs with dynamic and responsive teaching that can only happen with a qualified teacher-librarian.
I urge you to support this legislation so that all Washington students have the same access to those programs. Contact your state senators and representatives and ask them to support/HB 1609.