The statewide library community was thrilled this week when Senator Jane Nelson announced from the floor of the Texas Senate that her SB 3, providing a permanent $5,000 per year pay increase to classroom teachers, would be extended to include K-12 librarians. A collective cheer went up across the state among librarians of all types for this hard-won victory.
The Texas Library Association led the charge to include school librarians in SB 3. TLA President Jennifer LaBoon and Frisco ISD librarian Nancy Jo Lambert delivered very eloquent and emotional testimony February 25 to the Senate Finance Committee. The same day, an editorial ran in the Texas Tribune titled “Librarians are Teachers.” In that column, author Sara Stevenson outlines the many ways librarians are not only teachers but “literacy leaders” on their campuses. A few days later, Jennifer LaBoon was featured on the widely-heard “Texas Standard” radio program on NPR speaking about why librarians should be included. And on March 10, an editorial by a prominent university librarian, Lorraine Harricomb at UT Austin, ran in the Austin American Statesman extolling the vital and unique role of K-12 libraries.
In fact, the question of including librarians so came to dominate the story that much of the coverage of the pay raise measure featured librarians as much as teachers. “Senate passes teacher pay raise, adds librarians,” read the Austin American-Statesman headline on March 5. “Texas Senate unanimously passes $5,000 teacher pay raises, adding librarians,” said the Texas Tribune.
The victory is more than just the pay raises. It is a validation–long overdue–of the role of K-12 libraries in student success. That role has been documented repeatedly in dozens of studies in many states. Unfortunately for our students, it is a message that many school administrators and policy makers have been slow to understand and accept. Meanwhile, K-12 librarians work tirelessly to improve reading skills (one of Governor Abbott’s initiatives), raise STAAR test scores, and otherwise prepare students with the 21st century skills they need to succeed in work and life.
Congratulations to the K-12 librarians of the state for your huge success!
Articles cited above:
“Texas Senate unanimously passes $5,000 teacher pay raises, adding librarians,”Texas Tribune, March 4, 2019. https://www.texastribune.org/2019/03/04/texas-senate-passes-5000-teacher-pay-raises-adding-librarians/?utm_campaign=trib-social-buttons&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social
“Librarians are Teachers,” Sara Stevenson, Texas Tribune, February 25, 2019. https://www.tribtalk.org/2019/02/25/librarians-are-teachers/
“School librarians say they should be included in the proposed $5K teacher pay raise,” Texas Standard radio program, February 28, 2019. https://www.kut.org/post/school-librarians-say-they-should-be-included-proposed-5k-teacher-pay-raise