Schwank Visits Amanda E. Stout Elementary School

Reading February 16, 2022 – Today, Sen. Judy Schwank (D-11th district) visited Amanda E. Stout Elementary school to meet and read to a first grade class and to discuss SB 964, which would require Pennsylvania public schools to have a certified librarian on staff.

Schwank became the primary sponsor of SB 964 when its previous sponsor, John Sabatina, left the Pennsylvania Senate. In 2021, 48 school districts in Pennsylvania did not have a certified librarian in any of its buildings, impacting nearly 90 thousand K-12 students.

Schwank said her time as a volunteer tutor for the Ready.Set.READ! program gave her insight into the important work school librarians do helping students hone their reading skills.

“During my time as a tutor, I spent a lot of time in school libraries and got to see up close the impact a good librarian can have on students,” Schwank said. “Librarians play a crucial role helping students find and analyze reliable sources of information and apply it to their schoolwork. So, whether it’s sparking a student’s interest in reading or helping them navigate the shelves in order to find the information they need for a project, there are multiple ways librarians have a big impact on educational outcomes.”

Schwank also noted that one of the reasons schools go without librarians is inadequate education funding. Schwank added that Gov. Tom Wolf’s recent budget proposal, which would increase basic education funding for all 18 public schools in Berks County, would make it easier for schools to afford librarians and reduce reliance on local tax bases.

“Librarians disappearing from our public schools may seem like a small problem, but it’s a symptom of a much larger issue the commonwealth hasn’t been willing to reckon with,” Schwank said. “The way we fund public schools is broken and has been for quite some time.”

Schwank added that despite ranking fifth in total population among the 50 states, Pennsylvania ranks 46th in funding allocated by state governments to education.

SB 964 and its Pennsylvania House of Representatives companion bill HB 1168 have been co-sponsored by a bi-partisan group of lawmakers in the Pennsylvania General Assembly. To date, both bills are yet to be considered in either the House or Senate Education committees.