We're all used to protests in the Washington, D.C., region, but one demonstration outside the Wilson Building was unusually quiet.
A group of D.C. Public School librarians rallied for more investments in their schools as organizations say that librarian positions aren't adequately funded and many students are reading below grade level.
Instead of protest signs and chants, there was silence and a whole lot of reading.
They want the D.C. Council to help close the achievement gaps by reducing class size, using collaborative teaching models and making sure there's a librarian in every school.
About 30% of D.C.'s fourth grade students were at or above proficient reading levels in 2019, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress.
The Washington Teachers’ Union backed the protest and called for “sustainable investments” that would promote literacy.
The organization Save School Librarians says that D.C. is cutting librarian positions.
School Without Walls, a public magnet high school in Northwest, said it had to cut its librarian position for the fiscal year 2021 and couldn't restore it for the fiscal year 2022.
D.C. received $14 million in federal stimulus money to help recover from the pandemic. DCPS Chancellor Lewis D. Ferebee says that money will be targeted to addressing the academic and social impacts of COVID-19.
Librarians are not required staff at D.C. Public Schools.
Principals can petition to repurpose money for school librarians, and schools with fewer than 300 students have funding allocated to hire a part-time librarian, D.C. says.
But D.C. says it’s “not recommended” to forgo a school librarian or library aide.
“With planning underway for next school year, we are committed to using every resource available to support our students, educators, and school communities to ensure they have the resources necessary for a full recovery and safe reopening,” Mayor Muriel Bowser said in a statement.