CFT president Joshua Pechthalt joins Assemblymember Richard Pan, M.D., in a press conference at the Sacramento Library on April 9 announcing the launch of "Healthy Kids, Healthy Minds," AB 1955, shortly before the first committee hearing of the bill. It successfully passed out of the committee. Also at the press conference were, from left, CFT secretary treasurer Jeff Freitas, Maria Ruiz, Amielle Zebach, Dr. Pan, Diane Garcia, JoAnn Borbolla, and Sacramento librarian Christie Hamm. Click here for more on the press conference.
Health and library services in schools improve academic performance, enable students to thrive
CFT members along with parents and community organizations are launching a legislative campaign and grassroots organizing effort for Healthy Kids, Healthy Minds. CFT is organizing in our communities for school-based health services and expanded school library hours so that our children are healthy, safe, and able to achieve their goals.
Research shows a direct link between school-based health and library services and student success. School-based health services lead to academic improvements, better attendance, reduced suspension and expulsion rates, and lower dropout rates. School libraries help bridge the digital divide, equipping students with 21st century information technology skills. And, when children have access to libraries with plenty of books and adequate staffing, they read more and do better on reading tests.
California lags far behind other states and well below recommended ratios for these critical services in schools. Our state ranks 45th in the ratio of students to school nurses nationally. Fifty-seven percent of California school districts report not having any full-time school nurse. Similarly, the ratio of students to school psychologists and social workers in California is far worse than expert recommendations.
California ranks 51st nationally, including the District of Columbia, in the number of students per librarian – the absolute worst ratio. And, according to a recent article in the Los Angeles Times, about half of the 600 elementary and middle school libraries in the Los Angeles Unified School District are without librarians or aides, denying tens of thousands of California students regular access to school libraries.
California’s students deserve better. For years, California has balanced the state budget on the backs of our most vulnerable populations, including our students and schools. Proposition 30 – passed by voters in 2012 – provided a much-needed influx of funds to stop the cuts to education but we still have a long way to go. Despite being the ninth largest economy in the world, California consistently ranks in the bottom quartile nationally in terms of per pupil spending. We need to reclaim the promise of California’s public schools.
We hope you’ll join us in winning this important fight for Healthy Kids, Healthy Minds.