Haves, Halves, and Have-Nots: School Libraries and Student Achievement in California

than from the National Commission on Excellence in Education. This commission's report, A
Nation at Risk. The Imperative for Educational Reform (1983), states, "If an unfriendly foreign
power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists
today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war. As it stands, we have allowed this to
happen to ourselves. We have even squandered the gains in student achievement made in the
wake of the Sputnik challenge." The report describes the failures of American education
entering the information age and calls for educational reform at all levels.
At the same time, the ESEA funding that fueled much expansion of school library
programs was shifted into a block grant giving local districts more discretionary control over the
money. By 1985, just 29 % of this money was going toward school libraries (NCES, 2005).
Hopkins and Butler (as cited in NCES, 2005, p.6) say that the competition for funding at the
local level "ended the consistent growth of library media programs throughout the nation. What
has resulted is a 'haves' and 'have-nots' existence of programs."
In response to A Nation at Risk and the decline in federal support, the library community
published Alliance for Excellence. Librarians Respond to A Nation at Risk (Libraries and the
Learning Society Advisory Board, 1984). In their call for a new "Learning Society" (p. 4), the
authors say that "school library media programs of the best quality directly help students take
their place in the Learning Society" (p. 9). The authors caution that this can only happen "if
students know how to find, evaluate and use the information stored there. This is a basic skill
which all must acquire to function responsibly in a democratic society where more and more
information is being harvested each year" (p. 9). The call in this document to respond to the
information age in part through integrated information skills instruction in schools, with school
library media specialists taking the lead, is a precursor to Information Power. Guidelines for


Achterman, Douglas L. Haves, Halves, and Have-Nots: School Libraries and Student Achievement in California. Denton, Texas. UNT Digital Library. http://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc9800/. Accessed April 28, 2016.