Bill 24-0443, the Student’s Right to Read Amendment Act (DC Council)
Today the DC Council held a public hearing on Bill 24-0443, the Student’s Right to Read Amendment Act. If enacted, it would mandate there be sufficient funding for a school librarian at each District of Columbia Public School.
The District of Columbia Public School System (DCPS) changed its budget process in 2019 by giving principals the authority to use funds intended for librarians in other ways. However, a budget amendment passed in August of this year that moved $3.25 million within DCPS’s budget “to ensure every school has a full-time librarian,” but the bill did not explicitly mandate, that every school in the District have permanent funding for a librarian. At the time of the budget amendment there were 36 reported DCPS schools that did not have full-time librarians including a disproportionate percentage located in Wards 7 and 8.
The Student’s Right to Read Act comes off the heels of a silent “read in” by librarians in the District, in front of Washington DC Mayor Murrie Bowser’s office at the John A. Wilson building. The primary goals of the protest were to urge the the DC Council to reduce class sizes and have the school system to utilize collaborative teaching models to help improve students literacy rates The second more personal goal was to save their jobs which were threatened by the lack of a librarian mandate for a school.
This bill was introduced by Councilmembers Allen, Cheh, Lewis George, Bonds, Nadeau, Pinto, T. White, and Chairman Mendelson. If you would like more information on this bill please follow up with their offices.