Jacksonville Library Expands 'Educator Card' Program After Homeschool Parents Complain
A new Jacksonville Library program allows teachers to check out as many as 100 books for up to six weeks with no late fees.
The educator card was initially offered to Duval public, private and charter school teachers.
But the library is now offering it to homeschooling parents after hearing complaints.
Jacksonville resident Jennifer Clary homeschools her two children.
Last week she met with other parents who homeschool for a movie night at The Cross Church in Middleburg.
Kids congregated in a playroom, while parents chatted before watching the Christian movie, "The Lost Medallion."
Clary says she uses the public library to stock up on books for her kids. Some supplement what they’re learning, and some are just for fun.
“I just had to return some that I wasn’t done using because I had already reached my limit of renewals,” Clary said.
So, no late fees and double the allowed check-out time are perks she says she’d take advantage of. Clary says she doesn’t think homeschool parents were purposely discriminated against, but she took her frustrations out on the Jacksonville Library Facebook page.
Library spokeswoman Olga Bayer says those comments made a difference.
“Once we heard from them and we knew they wanted it, we were happy to be able to extend that,” Bayer said. “It’s just taken a little while on our part, finding out what it would take to make sure a parent was actually homeschooling their child.”
Clary says it's not always so easy to feel heard. “Even when it’s brought to the attention—‘Hey, you didn’t include homeschoolers’—a lot of times it’s just kind of pushed to the side,” Clary said. “It’s just, ‘Well, we don’t offer it to you right now.’ That’s the answer a lot of times.”
To get the educator card, homeschool parents must provide a verification letter from Duval County Public Schools.