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How to contact the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE):  Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, 75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148, Phone: 781-338-3102, Fax: 781-338-3770, E-mail: boe@doe.mass.edu


BESE Meeting Schedule and Agendas


  • The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education welcomes public comment on matters within its purview. Accordingly, the Board makes available a maximum 30-minute period at its regular meetings for persons in the audience to address the Board for no longer than 3 minutes. Written material of any length may be submitted. Preference will be given to persons who seek to address the Board on specific agenda items for the upcoming Board meeting. Agendas for upcoming Board meetings are generally posted 5 days prior to the meeting at www.doe.mass.edu/boe/docs/. Persons wishing to speak are strongly encouraged to submit their request before the day of the meeting; contact information is provided below. Preference will be given to those who submit requests by 5:00 p.m. on the Thursday preceding the regular Tuesday meeting. If time permits, the chairman will allow members of the public who have not contacted the Department in advance to speak in the public comment period; those individuals must sign in prior to the start of the meeting. The chairman may limit the number of speakers due to time constraints and may increase or reduce the time allocated per speaker. While there is no requirement to submit written testimony, a speaker who elects to do so should submit 15 copies of the testimony prior to or at the meeting for distribution to Board members. Requests to address the Board, written testimony, and other inquiries may be transmitted by mail, e-mail, fax, or telephone to: Massachusetts Board of Education, 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148, Phone: 781-338-3102, Fax: 781-338-3770, E-mail: boe@doe.mass.edu.


Current legislation governing school library programs in Massachusetts:


  • Legislation governing the administration, staffing, and funding of school library programs exists in Chapter 15 of Massachusetts General Law.


    This legislation charges the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) with:

    ·        Establishing a formula for funding school library programs to guide local school committees

    ·        Establishing minimum standards for school library personnel

    ·        Establishing minimum standards for the acquisition of print and nonprint materials for school libraries


    This legislation predates the passage of Chapter 70, which does not include any mention of school library programs.  MSLA believes that this omission was an unintentional oversight in the drafting of Chapter 70, and we would like to see this rectified.  However, MSLA understands that the legislation governing school library programs is the law.  It is our hope that the Massachusetts Board of Education will adhere to this legislation and set specific guidelines for the staffing, collection and programs for Massachusetts' school libraries



Ideas for constituent groups to speak at BESE meetings:

  • Parents: Tell the BESE that  good school library programs are linked to student achievement, and your child and every child in Massachusetts deserves a professionally-staffed, well-stocked school library
  • Students: Tell the BESE that you need a good school library program to give you the research and literacy skills you need to succeed in school now and when you get to college.  Remind the BESE that school libraries are the places to go for access to the technology you'll need for 21st century success. 
  • Administrators and school board members:  Explain to the BESE that their support is essential in guaranteeing that Massachusetts has clarity about what consitutes a good school library program; ask the BESE to put a plan in place to set guidelines for staffing, collection development, and frameworks that cities and towns can use to ensure their school library program will be adequate to provide students with the research skills and literacy support they need for academic achievement.
  • Academic Librarians: Let the BESE know that school library programs are necessary in public schools to ensure that students arrive at college with the skills they need to succeed academically.
  • Public Librarians: Tell the BESE that public libraries cannot take the place of school library programs; our programs complement one another--but you are not prepared to teach students, and you see the impact in public libraries when students don't have library support in school


Letter to Michele Norman, Director, Executive Office of Education from Winchester parent Susan Verdicchio--nice example of letter to state official:

Michele Norman, Director

Executive Office of Education

One Ashburton Place, 14th Floor, Suite 1403

Boston, MA 02108

 Re: 21st Century Education in Winchester


 Dear Michele,


          I just wanted to follow up on your talk at our recent Stand for Children forum. It was very encouraging to hear from a state policy-maker the idea that we need to move beyond thinking of technology as a separate subject. It is really not enough for a class of sixth graders to go to a computer lab and have a teacher walk them through making a pie chart of their family pets using Excel (to use an actual project my son brought home earlier this year). We really need to be teaching students how they can use technology to learn.


          A number of Winchester parents, after being involved as volunteers in the elementary libraries, have perceived that integrating technology skills and fostering inquiry-based, resource-based, and other 21st century learning experiences happens effectively at schools that have a 21st century library media program, staffed by a full-time library media specialist teacher. The Partnership for 21st Century Skills' white paper discusses the importance of Information Literacy, a core component of what school library media specialists are trained to teach. By doing research projects in the library media center, using print and online sources, children can grow up learning how to ask useful questions and then locate, evaluate and communicate information effectively. This is a skill set they need not only for college, but also to become lifelong learners. 


    There are many studies showing that students who have a professionally staffed, full-time school library score higher on standardized reading tests. The most recent study, by Ruth Small at Syracuse University, looked at over 1,600 urban, suburban and small-town schools across New York. Results showed not only higher test scores, but also greater student motivation in school, when students had access to quality library media centers. Preliminary report available at http://www.nyla.org/content/user_1/Preliminary_Report_Small.pdf


School librarians play a fundamental role in helping students become lifelong readers. Reading is the most basic of all information processing skills.


          Many states set standards for school libraries, their professional staffing, and for information literacy curricula. Six of the states in the Partnership for 21st Century Skills have such state-level policies. For example, North Carolina has an Information Skills Standard Course of Study for K-12, available at  http://www.dpi.state.nc.us/curriculum/information/scos/   Library and/or Information Literacy standards for West Virginia, Iowa, Kansas, Wisconsin, and South Dakota are at the URLs shown in the enclosed list.


          Here in Massachusetts, unfortunately, there are no state standards for school library media programs, nor is there any individual at the DESE charged with overseeing school libraries. The MSLA estimates that half of the Commonwealth's schools are without full-time library staff.  May I urge you to please look into developing policy in Massachusetts to support school libraries? For a start, the DESE should assess, monitor and plan for library media programs in schools across the Commonwealth. The DESE is authorized to do this by statute (M.G.L. Ch. 15, Sec. 1R)



        It just seems counter-productive to allow funding for school library media programs to be at risk in local school budgets during this economic crisis, just at a time when students need the 21st century skills library media programs so effectively teach. Massachusetts should follow the lead of the other members of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills and support school library media programs where students can learn to read, read to learn, and learn to learn.

   Thank you for speaking at our forum, and for all you do for education.

Best regards,

Susan Verdicchio



cc: Sarah Girotti, Winchester School Committee

   William McAlduff, Superintendent, Winchester Public Schools

     Roger Berman, Chair, Winchester Board of Selectmen

     Jason Lewis, State Representative

     Pat Jehlen, State Senator

     Carol Savage, Winchester Stand for Children

     Caren Connelly, Winchester Foundation for Educational Excellence

     Jody Collins Skinner, WPS Parents' Interschool Council

Library and/or Information Literacy State Standards


 North Carolina

  Standard Course of Study, Information Skills



West Virginia


 Content Standards and Objectives Policy 2520.17




          Code of Iowa 256.11(9) and Iowa Administrative Code Rule 281

          School Library Program Guidelines and Sample Information Literacy  Curriculum Framework





          Wisconsin Statute 121.02(1)(h) and Administrative Rule PI 8.01(2)(h)

          Model Academic Standards for Information & Technology Literacy


          (WI Dept. of Public Instruction, Instructional Media & Technology)



          Kansas State Dept. of Education Library Media & Technology      

          Model Standards



South Dakota

          South Dakota Board of Education School Library Standards



Proposed Information Literacy Standards for Massachusetts

          Mass. School Library Association




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