Strong Libraries Strong Scores

Getting School Administrators on Board with Libraries: A Model

In 2002 members of the Texas Library Association attended the White House Conference on School Libraries, where education, library, government, and philanthropic leaders discussed the power of school libraries to increase student achievement. Barry Bishop, then the Director of Libraries for the Spring Branch ISD, a north suburban Houston district, was among the Texas delegation.

In 2004, inspired by the White House conference, Barry pioneered the drive to develop an intensive mini conference for school administrators to take place during the TLA annual conference. The goal was to convince school administrators that their support of the Texas school library standards and guidelines, and of their campus librarians, would help them boost student achievement and their schools’ accountability ratings.

In April 2005 one hundred thirty-five (135) school administrators and trustees attended the first “Strong Libraries, Strong Scores” conference in Austin during the TLA annual conference. With the help of key conference sponsors TLA was able to offer the mini conference and registration to the larger TLA conference at no cost to attendees, other than travel expenses. Among the presenters were

  • Jana Knezek, TLA President-Elect
  • Marla McGhee, Ph.D., Co-Director, National Center for School Improvement, Texas State University
  • Keith Curry Lance, Ph.D., Director, Library Research Service
  • Perry Adams, Superintendent, Clinton ISD
  • Marybeth Green, Doctoral Candidate, TAMU
  • David Loertscher, Ph.D., SLIS, San Jose State University
  • Barry Bishop, Ed.D., Director of Libraries, SBISD
  • Cynthia Baker, Elementary Librarian, Northeast ISD, San Antonio
  • Wilbert Morgan, Principal, Northeast ISD, San Antonio & TASL Administrator of the Year, 2004.

The conference generated positive testimonial evidence from attendees, the conference was the subject of articles in the Texas Library Journal, Summer 2005 and Library Media Connection, August/September 2006, and subsequent “Strong Libraries, Strong Scores” conferences with roughly the same agenda and format were held in Houston in 2006, San Antonio in 2007, Dallas in 2008, Houston again in 2009, and earlier this year in San Antonio again.

The 2011 “Strong Libraries, Strong Scores” conference will return to Austin April 12-15 with a slightly new agenda and format:

  • David Warlick, The Landmark Project – “Telling the New Story”
  • Marla McGhee, Ph.D., Lewis & Clark University, Portland, OR – “What School Administrators Need to Know About What Librarians Do (So They Can Better Evaluate Them)”
  • Melody Paschall, Assistant Superintendent, C&I, Coppell ISD & TASL Administrator of the Year – “Developing Libraries for 21st-Century Learning”
  • Robert Scott, Commissioner of Education, Texas Education Agency
  • 5 school librarians, each to model one role of the SLMS as described in Empowering Learners: Guidelines for School Library Media Specialists, pp. 17-18: Leader, Instructional Partner, Information Specialist, Teacher, Program Administrator

But why…?

Why are TLA planners retooling the SLSS conference for 2011?

  • In spite of six years of SLSS conferences, attendance has remained below expectation, and, in spite of anecdotal evidence of local successes, no measurable gains have resulted.
  • A 2008 poll of 1200+ registered voters in Texas revealed overwhelming voter support for Texas public and school libraries. 82% supported increasing public funding for school libraries.
  • With no mandate for a qualified school librarian in every school, decision makers have largely ignored the public’s support for school libraries and have not heeded the overwhelming evidence that “the state studies” (Lance) offer, that student achievement goes up in schools that have a qualified school librarian and quality school library.
  • The goal for the 2011 SLSS conference is to tell the story differently.

Why am I talking to you about it? To issue an invitation …

  • to talk to your school administrator(s) and trustees about school libraries and ask if they would like to attend the 2011 “Strong Libraries, Strong Scores” conference in Austin April 12-15.
  • to talk to your school administrator(s) and trustees about school libraries and ask if they would consider attending a locally-hosted school administrators conference like SLSS.
  • to help organize a locally-hosted school administrators conference like SLSS.
  • to engage in the conversation – locally, nationally, and internationally – about how to tell the story of school libraries so that decision makers pay attention.
  • to support legislative efforts to require a school librarian in every school.

Additional Resources:

Comments & Testimonials from Past Conferences

Gray, Carlyn. “Strong Libraries, Strong Scores.” Texas Library Journal, Summer 2005.

Gray, Carlyn. “Strong Libraries, Strong Scores.” Library Media Connection, August/September, 2006.

ESC 2 Newsletter, March 2010, announcing SLSS Conference (.pdf)

SLSS 2005 Agenda (.doc)

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