We already know that kids from low-income households are at a disadvantage from the start. They are more likely to attend schools with fewer resources, face poor health outcomes, and experience crime, violence, and limited access to job opportunities than their counterparts from middle- and high-income households. Consider that more than half of all children in U.S. public schools come from low-income households and you realize we are talking about half a generation of kids.(1)
We also know that access to books is the number one contributor to educational inequality. But in low-income communities, there can be as little as one book for more than 800 children.(2)
And earlier this month, Education Week reported that since 2000, U.S. public schools have lost 20 percent of their librarians and media specialists, with schools in low-income communities being the hardest-hit. It also reported there is mounting evidence that schools without librarians and media specialists post lower reading scores.
Kids need access to books and resources in order to learn and succeed. We know that–but access is becoming more elusive, and the consequence is too steep.
“I don’t think people even know how much they lose when they lose their librarian,” she said. “They may lose the only person who keeps up with what the students are reading, and who acts as an unbiased advocate for the students because I never had to grade them.” –Chicago high school librarian Sara Sayigh, as quoted in “Schools See Steep Drop in Librarians, New Analysis Finds,” by Sara D. Sparks and Alex Harwin in Education Week, May 16, 2018.
We could lose half a generation of kids–and that’s not a loss we are willing to accept.