Visit the library of your neighborhood high school and/or middle school.
- Call the principal to make an appointment. Make sure you get the correct spelling of the names of the school librarian and principal.
- Explain that you are a strong advocate for education and the public schools and that you would like to make a donation of media materials to the school library. Acknowledge the responsibility of educators to select appropriate materials for their library. Assure them that once you see what the school has to offer, you will send them a list of items that you would be willing to donate and ask them to select one or more items from the list. If the librarian or principal suggests that a financial donation would be preferred, simply state that our group is prepared to offer media materials only.
- Notice how the current events materials are displayed and how much room is available for additional materials. Make a list of magazines and newspapers that the school provides for the students. Keep this list for future use. Many schools will consider limited space a reason for rejecting your offer. If display space is limited, you may offer additional display supplies.
- Send a letter to the principal offering your suggestions for donations. You may use this sample letter, or you may make changes which represent your experience, or you may write your own letter. Keep the letter short, positive, and professional. In every case, remember that educators deserve to be treated with respect. Assume that they will appreciate your generosity. This is the first step in getting to know the principal and some staff members from your local school in a very constructive, cooperative way. Making this a positive experience will make our next step a lot easier.
Good luck and thank you for joining our mission. Your time, effort, and generosity toward your neighborhood school are valuable to the success of this project.
Click on the one which applies to you. Your offer has been accepted, ignored, or rejected.
Congratulations! Send a letter thanking the administrator for the quick reply. Identify the date you ordered the magazines and newspapers that they had requested. Provide your contact information so that the educator may contact you should there be a problem with a subscription. Stop in to visit the school library to make sure the materials are on display. Ask to see how often the items have been checked out by the students so you know how well they have been received so that you can make the necessary adjustments on your next offer.
Please go to Phase II of the program.
This is the “polite” way of saying “no”. Call the principal to make arrangements to meet with them. If they seem too busy to set an appointment, drop in after the students have left for the day. Bring a second copy of your original letter in which you made your offer. On this copy, under the original date, write the date of your meeting and the words “second offer”. Keep a copy of this letter for your records. Remember to include a SASE. Always be friendly and try to encourage the principal to make a selection. If the principal continues to ignore or actually declines your offer, ask why. Keep a copy of the letter you brought to this meeting and keep careful notes about what the administrator said to you. Go to “rejected” for additional recommendations.
If the principal rejects your offer, try to determine the objections. You may be able to make some reasonable compromises as long as you provide conservative materials only. Make sure that you take careful notes. Do not hesitate to discuss every child’s right to academic freedom and the variety of methods for teaching critical thinking skills. If the principal still refuses to include conservative materials in the school library, suggest that you will be requesting a meeting with the Superintendant of Schools to discuss policy. Do have this meeting. Remember to take careful notes during these meetings and to save copies of all letters and written materials. If the Superintendent does not wish to encourage the principal to accept your offer, then inform him that you will be requesting an opportunity to address the school board. See step three for agenda recommendations.
Contact the school board and request an opportunity to address academic freedom for students, the function of the school library, and the development of curriculum that encourages critical thinking skills among students. Bring copies of your remarks for them to study during deliberations. The secretary of the school board is usually the one who will distribute copies to the other members. The following are suggested remarks:
1. Introduce yourself briefly.
2. Summarize your attempts to add materials to the school library and provide copies of the letters you sent to the school. Remind them that no attempt was made to eliminate anything already provided in the library. Keep it factual. Avoid personal assessments. Explain that your rationale includes the following:
- The school library is visited by all students and provides an immediate visual impact on a student’s perception of the intellectual tone of a school building.
- School libraries which contain reading materials representing only one side of an issue effectively influence students to embrace pre-determined positions on most scientific, political and social issues.
- A key purpose of schools is to protect the academic freedom of every student by providing opportunity to study without fear of reprisal or limitation.
- The absence of diversity in media resources impedes the development of critical thinking skills which are a significant aspect of quality education.
- A truly enlightened educational environment provides resources and encourages research on a variety of viewpoints regarding major issues which impact society.
- In a civil society, citizens must analyze varying viewpoints objectively and must respect people who hold those viewpoints.
- Curriculums meant to address bullying represent an institutional hypocrisy and become ineffective when a group of people representing any specific point of view is marginalized.
- Therefore, libraries of schools which receive federal or state funding must provide research and reading materials which address all facets of current scientific, political, historical, and civic issues.
Close by thanking the members for their time. Ask that they consider your offer of magazines and newspapers. Indicate that you are looking forward to providing current events material for the students of NAME OF SCHOOL.
Keep a copy of this agenda and request the school board provide a written response to your presentation. If the school district does not accept your offer of adding conservative materials to the public school library, it is time to write a letter to your legislator.