Mr. REED. Mr. President, I come to the floor today to urge all of my
colleagues to support the Reed-Cochran amendment to encourage States
and school districts to integrate school library programs into their
plans for improving student academic achievement.
I would first like to thank Senator Cochran for his longstanding
partnership in supporting school libraries. He has been a steadfast
champion for ensuring that students have access to these vital
Fifty years ago, when President Lyndon Johnson urged Congress to
enact what would become the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, he
specifically called for an investment in school libraries, saying that
school libraries were simply ``limping along'' and insisting that we do
better. Sadly, this ``limping along'' is still true for too many
communities in our United States.
This spring, the Washington Post ran articles on the inequitable
access to school libraries in public schools in our Nation's Capital,
reporting that one school library in a wealthy part of town had 28,000
books in a library that spanned two floors, while 12 miles away, in a
school in a poorer part of the town, the school library had only 300
books along two walls. If that is not a stark example of one of the
things we hope we can fix through this act, I cannot think of anything
more direct and to the point.
Recently, noted author James Patterson made a pledge to help school
libraries. More than 28,000 applications came in.
One librarian reported that school libraries in her State had not
received any funding for three-quarters of a decade and that their
collections and equipment were out of date and in disrepair. I suspect
she is not alone in making such a report. We see this neglect despite
the fact that evidence shows that effective school library programs,
staffed by a certified school librarian, have a positive impact on
While I would like to see a much more robust school library-focused
initiative included in the reauthorization, along the lines of the bill
I introduced with Senator Cochran, I am very pleased that the
underlying bill includes an authorization for competitive grants to
help high-need school districts strengthen and enhance effective
library programs. However, we need to do more to encourage States and
school districts to integrate school library programs into their
overall instructional programs.
Effective school library programs are essential supports to
educational success. If you understand how to use the library in
school, that is not a skill that goes away; in fact, it will be a skill
for the rest of your life that you will use time and time again, not
only for your pleasure but for your progress and the progress of your
family. Knowing how to find and use information is an essential skill
for college, careers, and life in general. A good school library,
staffed by a trained school librarian, is where students develop and
hone those skills.
The Reed-Cochran amendment will encourage States and school districts
to ensure that students have access to effective school library
Once again, I thank my colleague, Senator Cochran.
I urge my colleagues to vote yes on this bipartisan amendment.
I yield the floor.