Deb Grill's School Board Testimony

Deb Grill's School Board Testimony

April 20th, 2023

Did you know that April is School Library Month? School districts around the country are celebrating their school libraries and school librarians. Unfortunately, our district has few school libraries and only one full time equivalent librarian for 113,443 students.

That wasn’t always so. In 1991, the School District of Philadelphia had robust school library programs staffed by 176 school librarians. However, in the late 1990s, the district stopped directly funding school librarian positions while simultaneously cutting school budgets, leaving principals with no funding for a library and a school librarian.

This year, the district could celebrate School Library Month by resolving to follow in the footsteps of the Boston, Washington, D.C. and Los Angles school districts who have already begun to restore school libraries and librarians in all of their schools because they recognize that restoring libraries and librarians is an important step towards eliminating the inequalities of their students’ education.

Our district can start by allocating funds to Overbrook H.S. for a full-time school librarian to help Principal Johnson who intends to use her Lindback award money to restore Overbrook’s library so that her students can have what she had as a student at Overbrook: “access to a robust school library where they can study, borrow books and collaborate with peers.” A librarian will not only help her build a quality collection of print and electronic resources, but also teach her students the research skills they will need to access and evaluate print and electronic sources of information that they will encounter not only as students but as adults—an important skill in this world of easy access to fake news and misinformation.

Equity for our students means providing them with all of the resources they will need to level the playing field in whatever path they choose to follow.

Deb Grill is a retired SDP school librarian, leader in the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools (APPS), and Core Planning Team member of PARSL.