Sign the Petition to City Council for School Libraries

Dear Members of the Philadelphia City Council,

We, the undersigned, call on you to recognize and address a critical gap in our city's educational infrastructure and our children's learning experiences: the dire need for increased funding and support for libraries and state-certified school librarians within the School District of Philadelphia (SDP). Our city's future—embodied by its 116,000+ students across 218 district-operated schools—stands at a pivotal juncture, confronting serious challenges that impede educational achievement and equity.

The Current Landscape: A Call for Urgent Action

The SDP is grappling with a stark reality: a mere equivalent of two full-time librarians serve our entire district, leaving most schools without a functioning library. This deficiency has tangible repercussions on our students' academic prowess, particularly in reading—a foundational skill critical to lifelong learning and success. Alarmingly, only 31% of 3rd graders and 34% of students in grades 3-8 achieved proficiency in reading during the 2022-23 school year. The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) further underscores this crisis, revealing that merely 15% of Philadelphia's 4th graders and 17% of 8th graders are proficient in reading.

Our student population embodies diverse needs: 100% are economically disadvantaged, almost 20% are English learners, 19% receive special education services, over 4,700 are homeless, and our schools are a linguistic mosaic with 167 non-English languages spoken. Amidst these challenges, the SDP faces a daunting $407 million budget gap for fiscal 2025, exacerbated by the expiration of federal pandemic aid and a reliance on state and city funding for nearly all its operating budget.

The Transformative Power of Libraries and Librarians

Evidence abounds on the pivotal role of school libraries and librarians in promoting academic excellence and equity. Schools with full-time librarians witness significantly higher reading scores, a testament to the librarian's role in fostering reading proficiency, critical thinking, and a lifelong love for learning. School libraries serve as vital resources for marginalized students, with research indicating enhanced academic gains and improved writing skills among Black and Latinx students in such environments.

A Vision for Equitable Access and Success

Recognizing access to school libraries as an essential equity issue, several major urban districts across the nation have committed to reinstating school librarians and libraries. This movement towards educational justice affirms the profound impact that well-resourced libraries can have on literacy, student achievement, and readiness for college and careers. It is imperative that Philadelphia joins this vanguard, ensuring our students are not left behind.

A Call to Action: Invest in Our Future

With the state and city poised to support our public schools—evidenced by Gov. Shapiro's budget proposal and Mayor Parker's funding increase—it is a critical moment to advocate for a significant portion of these resources to be allocated toward revitalizing the SDP's library services. Investing in school libraries is an investment in our students' futures, promising a more literate, equitable, and successful Philadelphia.

We urge the City Council to act decisively in supporting increased funding for the School District of Philadelphia, specifically earmarked for libraries and state-certified school librarians. Together, we can turn the page towards a brighter and more equitable educational future for all Philadelphia students.

Add your name to this petition. PARSL will deliver the petition to the City Council on your behalf. 

The Philadelphia Alliance to Restore School Librarians (PARSL) wants everyone who cares about the future of education in Philadelphia to sign the petition to all 17 City Council members to encourage them to support increased school funding so that K-12 students can have libraries and certified school librarians in our city public schools.



Will you sign?