Since 1991, the number of full-time librarians working in Philadelphia's cash-strapped, budget-slashed public schools has declined by 94% — only eight remain, while the state continues to trail the nation in literacy scores.
It's not just librarians: Philly's public schools were also remarkably short on nurses and guidance counselors until recently.
Judd reported that Hispanic students in particular are more likely to feel the positive impact of access to librarians; a 2007 joint study by the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association and the Education Law Center shows they are three times as likely to earn "Advanced" scores on writing tests when schools are staffed with a full-time librarian than their peers without access to one.
Time will tell whether likely incoming secretary of education Betsy DeVos — who would be the first in her position to not have attended or sent her children to public school — will make enriching public education resources a priority. If she does, data indicates a potential payoff in standardized test scores: Judd reported that, on average, a librarian with a support staff "was responsible for a 9 percent increase in students who score 'Advanced' in reading." For a city that has seen slow progress in bolstering reading and math scores, results like that would be a boon.
The Number of Librarians in Philly Continues to Dwindle [Morgan Baskin/Pacific Standard]
(Image: BVIS Ho Chi Minh Library, Sauronjim, CC-BY-SA)