Make Restoring School Librarians a High Priority in Philadelphia

The School District of Philadelphia (SDP) has the worst ratio of school librarians to students in the nation among districts that have any librarians. Two out of three students in Philadelphia are unable to read on grade level by the 4th grade. This statistic matters because, while children learn to read in grades K-3, they “read to learn” in 4th grade and beyond. Children need to be proficient readers by 4th grader in order to learn new content areas as they get older.

According to 2021-22 federal data provided by the district, SDP has the equivalent of one full-time librarian for its 113,000+ K-12 students and 217 district-managed schools. SDP staffing patterns have shown a continual and dramatic loss of school librarians over time, as researched by the SLIDE Project.

Children who can't read on grade level by 4th grade are six times more likely to drop out of school. The School District of Philadelphia’s Board of Education has made it a priority to improve the English Language Arts proficiency levels of its 3rd-8th grade students (Goals 1 and 2 of the Board’s Goals and Guardrails).

What school libraries and librarians provide to students:

  • Build and support a habit of reading to learn and to enjoy;

  • Provide an equitable reading experience by offering books and online sources representing a wide range of reading levels, interest levels, and languages;

  • Teach students to critically analyze and interpret the information they read, hear, and view; Teach students to apply and share ideas; and

  • Develop in students an understanding of and respect for diverse people and perspectives.

Newly installed Superintendent, Dr. Tony Watlington, recently heard from members of the school community that a high priority to improve student learning is to restore school libraries and school librarians in all schools. To ensure that this priority receives the attention of the SDP Board of Education and administrators, please sign this petition indicating your support.

Add my name to the growing list of parents, educators, and Philadelphia stakeholders who want to see the School District of Philadelphia restore school librarians across our public schools. I'm adding my name to stand with students and their families for better educational outcomes and to stay in touch with the Campaign. 

Will you sign?