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My son Kai attends our neighborhood elementary school and loves his librarian, who always had wonderful literacy activities to foster a love of reading. Thanks to her and the excellent teachers, our struggling urban school raised its reading scores by 14% last year! 

So I was shocked to hear that our beloved librarian had been let go, due to "budget cuts" in a time when DCPS has the most lavish budget ever and central office is the largest ever.   In fact, 57 schools and 16,600 students in DC have had no librarian. And now, with the Chancellor's new budget, 61% of schools will have a part-time or no librarian at all.  According to an independent City Council analysis, the DC Public School system has enough in its $800 Million budget to fund a librarian and top-notch library materials for all of its schools ($23M). But despite the claims by Mayor Gray and Chancellor Henderson that they want to improve literacy and reading proficiency (outlined in their new five-year plan), they have ignored education research and protests by concerned parents.

My husband and I, along with hundreds of others in D.C., are fighting hard to Save School Librarians. Librarians from all over have joined us - including Kamaria Hatcher, a librarian in Maryland, who helped us start this petition.  

Recently, City Council Member Jack Evans introduced a bill that requires a librarian in every school, causing  Mayor Gray and Chancellor Henderson  to ridicule parents' support of librarians as "hyperbole" becayse there is no "payoff" to librarians. We need your help! Tell Mayor Gray and Kaya Henderson that librarians are not optional and that we want our tax dollars to go to schools, not central office!

In light of the recent $417 Million surplus in the DC budget and an $800 Million Public School budget, we can afford $23 Million to have a librarian and top-notch materials in every school.  For the education of our children, we need a full-time librarian in every school, a per student allotment for library materials as in other school districts, and for librarians to be put back in the essential staff category.  

Please sign our petition and help us Save School Librarians! Thank you! - Bella

PS If you would like to help recruit more supporters with a paper petition or if you know of an organization or prominent individual who would write a letter, please contact me at - thank you.

Letter to
DC City Council Member Council Member McDuffie
DC City Council Member David Catania
DC City Council Member Tommy Wells
and 12 others
DC City Council Chairman Phil Mendelson
DC Mayor Vincent Gray
DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson
DC City Council Member Jack Evans
DC City Council Member Council Member Grosso
DCPS Josephine Robinson
Executive Office of the Mayor
DC City Council Member Council Member Graham
DC City Council Member Council Member Cheh
DC City Council Member Council Member Bowser
DC City Council Member Council member Alexander
DC City Council Member Marion Barry
I am writing to urge you to keep librarians in all DC Schools. I was very disappointed in the Chancellor's proposed budget which proposes austerity measures for our schools while funding the largest central office in history. Cutting librarians and not providing enough money for books in school libraries is just one illustrative example of the how the budget is a travesty.

Our students need librarians in order to succeed. Chancellor Henderson has commented that she has not seen a "pay-off" from full-time librarians and Mayor Gray has said that it is "hyperbole" that librarians are essential to every school. Decades of research (in at least 19 states) have shown that having a school librarian is key to good educational outcomes. The Chancellor's own Libraries Task Force recommended that every school have a librarian, yet she is cutting librarians in schools with fewer than 400 students.

We urge you to return librarians to their essential status, keep them in every school, and put money toward a sufficient per student allotment of materials. DC students can succeed, but only with the right resources.

We support Council Member Jack Evans' bill to require a librarian in every school and, in light of the recent $417 Million surplus in the DC budget and an $800 Million Public School budget, we can afford the $23 Million needed to have a librarian and top-notch materials in every school, without sacrificing teachers or other essentials, TODAY. This is a fight to save school libraries and to save the future of DC students.

I, and thousands of others, urge you to reject the Chancellor's budget and save our schools and school libraries.


Bella Dinh-Zarr started this petition with a single signature, and now has 5,383 supporters. Start a petition today to change something you care about.