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An Open Letter to the Woodbridge BOE

A little bit of background for all of you that have no clue what’s going on:

The Woodbridge Township School District Board of Education has voted to eliminate ALL school librarians for the 2017/18 school year.

A public hearing has been scheduled by the Woodbridge Township Board of Education to discuss the 2017/18 school year budget on Tuesday, May 2, 2017 at 7:00 PM at Avenel Middle School, 85 Woodbine Avenue, Avenel, NJ.

LET YOUR VOICES BE HEARD!!!!

——

Dear Woodbridge Township School District Board of Education,

My name is Kailynn, and I am a proud resident of Woodbridge township. I am also a high school English teacher in NJ. While I am not yet a parent, I am truly concerned about the state of Woodbridge Township’s public schools, and the impact the Board’s decisions will have on both current and future Woodbridge Township School students.

Through the New Jersey Library Association, I recently learned that Woodbridge Township School District Board of Education has voted to eliminate all school librarians for the upcoming school year. This would be a devastating blow to not only the youth of our town, but to our community as a whole.

Literacy in America has been on a steady decline for the past few years. As a fourth year English teacher, I have seen my students enter the 11th grader with less and less proficiency in their reading and reading comprehension skills. While I may not be a statistician, I am an English teacher. Every day I see how my students have grown through out the school year. I believe I large part of this growth is the fact that I have made it a priority to have my students read independently at least once a week. Without the availability of a library or a friendly librarian to help them find a book that interests them, my students certainly would not be reading on their own. I am horrified to even imagine what their education would be like without the opportunity to develop key literacy skills. The removal of all school librarians would leave an irreparable hole in the education of our township’s youth. It would be simply shameful for the Board to allow this to happen, let alone support such a preposterous idea.

The students of our township deserve the very best. After all, the vision statement of our school district is to “engage the entire community in instructing and inspiring our students to be successful and significant beyond our classrooms.” Without the support of a school librarian, how can we even begin to come close to this vision?

School librarians do more than organize books. They teach our students to be avid learners, to research topics of interest and importance to the world, and to become better citizens of the world. School librarians create strong educational bonds with teachers in order to help students discover digital and print resources, as well as help develop research projects. Curriculum is further enriched by the knowledge and expertise of school librarians.  To destroy these positions would be a tragedy.

Woodbridge Township School District claims that their mission statement “is to develop, through a technology infused curriculum, life-long learners who are responsible citizens prepared to make positive contributions to the global society. We are committed to engaging all members of the community in the process of providing a learning environment that fosters interdependence, embraces change and values diversity. “ If the school district is so determined to develop life-long learners and responsible citizens, the district should undoubtedly keep their school librarians. Getting rid of such vital members of the school community would be a complete travesty, and a disappointment to both the school community and the Woodbridge community as a whole.

Our students deserve better than this. I want them to read. I want them to succeed. I want our students to do well in life. I’m sure you feel the same. After all, any teacher or parent’s goal is to see their student succeed.

Before I end this note, I hope that you will consider the following facts about literacy in America.

  1. 2/3 of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of 4th grade will end up in jail or on welfare. Over 70% of America’s inmates cannot read above a 4th grade level.
  2. 1 in 4 children in America grow up without learning how to read.
  3. Kids who don’t read proficiently by 4th grade are 4 times likelier to drop out of school.
  4. As of 2011, America was the only free-market OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) country where the current generation was less well educated than the previous.
  5. Nearly 85% of the juveniles who face trial in the juvenile court system are functionally illiterate, proving that there is a close relationship between illiteracy and crime. More than 60% of all inmates are functionally illiterate.
  6. 53% of 4th graders admitted to reading recreationally “almost every day,” while only 20% of 8th graders could say the same.
  7. 75% of Americans who receive food stamps perform at the lowest 2 levels of literacy, and 90% of high school dropouts are on welfare.
  8. Teenage girls ages 16 to 19 who live at or below the poverty level and have below average literacy skills are 6 times more likely to have children out of wedlock than the girls their age who can read proficiently.
  9. Reports show that low literacy directly costs the healthcare industry over $70 million every year.

(Facts from “11 Facts about Literacy in America.” DoSomething.org | Volunteer for Social Change. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 May 2017.)

I truly hope that you will consider the severity of the Woodbridge Township School District Board of Education’s vote to eliminate the remaining three school librarian positions. Not only do these esteemed educators deserve better, but so do our students. It would be a disgrace to be a part of a township that supports setting up current and future generations for failure with the removal of school librarians.

Thank you for your time, service, and consideration.

Sincerely,

Kailynn