Make a Difference in Mississippi

Image from the Mississippi Department of Education

Image from the Mississippi Department of Education

I received the following email over the weekend, and I felt like it needed immediate attention, so I decided to post it right away.

The Mississippi Department of Education is proposing and has drafted “Revisions to the Process Standards of the Mississippi Public School Accountability Standards”. As the standards are now, public schools are REQUIRED to have licensed librarians (either full- or part-time, depending on enrollment), and administration is REQUIRED to provide adequate funding for libraries.

The newly proposed (drafted) set of standards are changing from “requiring” schools to have a librarian to “recommending” schools have a librarian, and are to set NO BUDGET REQUIREMENTS for the libraries. This is a death knoll for all licensed librarians and an educational deterrent to school children of all ages. The library is the hub of the school!

Please visit the link below and read the proposal. Issues that concern librarians are highlighted in red. Time is of the essence! Please note that the accompanying cover letter indicates that all comments – whether written or by email – must be received by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 18. Please take time to read the proposal and send your comments to the MDE to let them know how this will impact hundreds, if not thousands, of people’s lives.

Even if you do not live in Mississippi PLEASE let my state know how devastating these changes will be for our schools and students.

I am so sad to hear about this, and I hope every one of my readers will take a few minutes to share their thoughts with the Mississippi Department of Education by 5:00 p.m. on February 18.

Click here to access the proposal!

Comments can be emailed to accountability (at) or faxed to 601-359-1979.





  1. Amanda C. says

    Thank you for raising awareness on this issue! I wrote them. Here’s my letter:

    To whom it may concern:

    I am deeply saddened and disturbed to hear that the Mississippi Department of Educations is considering a change to the requirement that public schools have a licensed school librarian. I know it seems like a quick fix when financial dire straits arise, but please know that this is the last thing you want to do if your mission is to “ensure a bright future for each child.”

    Countless studies show that having a well stocked library with a licensed media specialist is integral to student success. Here are just a few of those studies:


    Reading Workshops are most effective with a teacher-librarian:

    Infographic on Librarians and Student Achievement:

    Both of my parents were born and raised in the Mississippi Delta. My mother is a high school media specialist. They both enjoyed their school libraries in Cleveland and Clarksdale, MS. It would be a sad day for them to know that their home state was even considering such a poor choice.

    If you are worried about your states’ low test scores now then brace yourself: They will dip even lower if you take away school library funding and expertise from your already struggling schools. Don’t do it.

      • Amanda C. says

        How cool is that! I spent many hours of my childhood in Cleveland walking up and down 5th Avenue where my grandparents lived. Loved visiting the Delta State campus where my parents went to school as well.

    • Karen Lyon says

      Thank you so much, Amanda, for taking the time to send a response to the Mississippi Department of Education regarding the proposed revisions to our library-related process standards. As you can imagine, we are very concerned about what these revisions would do to seriously jeopardize district accountability with respect to staffing, funding and physical spaces for our school libraries. We are blessed in our district to have strong support for our libraries and librarians; however, there are many districts in our state who are not so fortunate and the language of these proposed revisions puts those librarians and their school library programs in grave danger. Thank you, again, for standing with us!

  2. Tonja says

    Thank you so much for posting this! I hope your followers will inundate MDE with emails and faxes letting them know just how devastating this will be for our students.

  3. says

    As an elementary school librarian in Mississippi, I was so encouraged to see you tackle this issue. I have emailed MDE and hope everyone will join in and help rally support for our students and their libraries. Thank you.

  4. Tonja says

    There will be a public hearing Tuesday, April 1 at Central High School in Jackson, MS to discuss the proposed changes. Hopefully librarians will turn out in full force to oppose the changes. Although the meeting is at 10:00 a.m., not exactly a convenient time for educators!

  5. Karen Lyon says

    Just an update on how the proposed revisions to library-related standards in Mississippi came down . . .

    Staffing Standard – The original language, i.e. ‘500 students a full-time librarian is REQUIRED’ was retained. We fully expect that this issue will be revisited because many districts – primarily smaller ones – want to be able to use one librarian for 2 schools especially where two distinct grade level buildings share the ‘same campus;’ however, for the near future, the standard remains intact.

    Budgeting Standard – Both the $20 per student amount and the wording “for library / instructional materials, supplies and equipment” were removed from the standard which, in effect, did away with the standard as far as libraries go. The department’s rationale was that the $20 amount was ‘archaic because districts spend much more than that’ on a per student basis and that the removal of the library language was because the standard was never ‘specifically for libraries but for instructional as well.’ Our argument was to strengthen the standard, i.e., raise the $ amount rather than delete it altogether and that the absence of the ‘library’ language could give districts that did not value libraries an opening to cut existing funding (whatever the amount). We know human nature is that, in the absence of a standard, there is no compelling reason to maintain what the standard required. As a result of the department’s decision it is our understanding that monies will be distributed from the district level to schools and ‘certified administrators’ will determine how the monies will be spent/distributed. So we are at the mercy of an administrator’s understanding / perspective of the value of his/her librarian and library program. While we are extremely disappointed with the budget decision it is a call to school librarians to step out of the shadows (and our comfort zones) and become fearless promoters of ourselves and our library programs.

    Physical Space Standard – The ‘EXEMPTION for high performing schools’ language was mistakenly attached to this standard and so the standard which states that ‘every school must have a library with an organized collection of materials and equipment that represent a broad range of CURRENT learning media . . . ‘ remains intact! In fact, we plan to use the ‘organized and CURRENT’ language of this standard to build the argument that a library budget is NECESSARY to meet the intent of this standard!

    We appreciate so much those of you who took the time to send in comments to the Department of Education. Because of your help and the outcry of librarians across our state we were given the opportunity to ‘have a public say’ about our concerns. We may not have won all of our battles hands down but we certainly didn’t concede the war before it started!

    Again, many thanks from one librarian to another!

    Karen Lyon

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