OK, now I’m getting angry

I have been stunned by the ignorance I’ve run up against in the past two weeks. I say "ignorance" because my mom raised me to be sweet and I will give someone the benefit of a doubt until they prove to me that they have a head full of manure or they’ve been bought off by corporate demons.

Here’s the thing. Some school boards (and state officials) have allowed sports budgets to be cut. As a jock, as the wife of a jock, as the mom of four jocks, this is hard to accept, but times are hard, so I have to accept this, because sports are not the top priority.

But reading and literacy is the NUMBER ONE PRIORITY OF AMERICAN EDUCATION!!

Duh.

Despite 60 STUDIES that show a direct and irrefutable correlation between literacy & the presence of full-time, certified librarians, school districts across the country have eliminated school librarian jobs. Why? Maybe they are not afraid of librarians and the people who care about books.

They should be. ::cues ominous music::

They are trying to cut ANOTHER school librarian from MY district. I’m going to a school board meeting tomorrow night. Have you fought for America’s children recently? I will adore you if you show up at a school board meeting and testify and pound your shoe on the table for full-time, certified school librarians.

Why should you care about this? In those schools where the libraries remain open, but without librarians, parent-volunteers have to filled the void. And reading scores go down.

And here is the latest: math scores are up. Reading scores are not.

WHAT THE HELL ARE THEY THINKING? WHY AREN’T YOU SHOWING UP AT SCHOOL BOARD MEETINGS WITH PITCHFORKS AND TORCHES???

We have not asked parent volunteers to teach math class. But we have asked them to run the school libraries when we cut back, then eliminate school librarian jobs.

Parents are qualified to be parents, not librarians.

If you care about the future of America’s children, you’ll fight for certified, full-time librarians in every school. Do you disagree?

23 Replies to “OK, now I’m getting angry”

  1. As a soon-to-be certified school librarian, THANK YOU! You’re so right!

    ksteve85 (twitter)

  2. Right on!!

    Speaking as a full-time school librarian who runs 3 school libraries in a district with 6 school libraries and only 2 librarians, RIGHT ON!! You go girl! Thank you for speaking up for us and our profession!

  3. This is horrible. I’ve been furious with the trend of cutting funding for the arts in schools for years, but cutting out libraries!? I don’t understand. Reading is beneficial in all fields of study. If kids have a chance to become avid readers, they’ll learn better no matter what subject they take on.

    Education system fail. I’m so glad you’re drawing attention to this. It makes me furious.

  4. Your blogs and tweets actually inspired me to write a paper regarding this topic–and I received an A on it. I just don’t understand the thought process behind school boards. Libraries should be the LAST thing to go. As soon as a library closes, the entire school may as well fold.

    I hope this issue takes center stage sooner rather than later, before it is too late. As an undergrad hoping to get a Master’s in Library Sciences, this closing of libraries is very frightening.

  5. Because our state does not see fit to require that a FT certified librarian be in every school. Therefore, boards see it as an “extra position” to cut.

    And all we do in our work is either sit around and read books, or as one taxpayer said in regard to (public library cuts) “..all you need to know is Dewey Decimal and the alphabet.” Frankly, most people have no idea what we do all do, and despite talking and showing until we are blue in the face they don’t care what we do either. They regard us as the lowest rung of public servants. Because you know, we play with books all day. How hard is that?

    (You should see the look on people’s faces when I tell that I can work all day and never touch a book. Its priceless.)

  6. Every state is cutting corners like that and it’s revolting. All elementary librarians were let go last year in my district. (A bad idea since I have sophomores who don’t know how to do a keyword search in the library computer, use the Dewey Decimal system, or even know what a call number is).

    Reading scores keep falling. We have so many standardized tests and district mandated curriculum pieces that it’s impossible to get through more than one novel or play a semester … then you have to teach it to a class of 35 or more kids who don’t do their homework if they’re assigned reading because their extracurriculars take precedence.

    But the asshattery of the state of AZ knows no bounds– they’re attempting to introduce a Grand Canyon high school diploma. What does this magical diploma do? If you pass a frightfully easy graduation test (easier than the ridiculously easy one that we have now to graduate), kids can graduate their sophomore year. Apparently junior and senior years are superflous. No one learns anything during them anyway, they say. So why keep them in school when they can be in the workforce?

    I’m jumping ship at the end of this year and going back East. It’s bad everywhere but anyplace should be better than Arizona, the 49th state in the Union for education which, BTW, routinely pays its teachers $8,000 under the national average. Believe me; I’m highly qualified to teach English and writing and have a Master’s degree– a night manager at Mickey D’s makes more than I do.

    Sorry for the rant. Just weighing in.

  7. Amen, Sister! Why-when people are cash strapped to BUY books-are we cutting the LIBRARIANS? This is insanity!

  8. This touches a chord – I’m a variation on one of those parent volunteers. OK, fine… I am one, but in our case (a new public, charter school) we parents also created the library, as our charter was approved with no library being required. That was five years ago, and I still operate as the (volunteer) librarian. I’m great at read-alouds and pretty good at getting great books into kids’ hands (from what we’ve gotten donated (and we always take more!!)), but it’s very clear to me that it is NOT enough.

    A qualified librarian could do so much more for the kids and for the teachers both, even in our circumstances. It’s crystal clear if you get in the room for any time at all – a librarian adds value. Sure, we’re better off than with nothing – much better, I think – but that’s because it was a matter of addition, not the current subtraction that’s going on with budget cuts.

    Every school that has a library and librarian should be fighting to keep him or her in place. Every parent at every school should be fighting that fight, too.

  9. This bothers me, too. During high school, I spent a lot of time in the library. Instead of trying to find something to do outside during the hour we had for lunch, when I was a freshman, I was looking for anything I hadn’t read already.
    But my son is only a toddler. I’m not asking this rhetorically – how do I get involved?

  10. Here’s what I’d say to the school board.

    One might think that a volunteer would do well in a library. That they basically just have to keep the kids quiet and stock the shelves. And as far as research goes, well, the kids always have the net.

    Well, what would your response be if the superintendent said, “We don’t need a school board anymore. If some parents want to chip in a few hours, fine – they can find all the proper procedures and forms on the web.”

    Meaning education doesn’t matter. Experience doesn’t matter.

    But look at all you had to learn for this position. And now imagine if just to be qualified to sit here and listen to me you’d spent years earning a Masters Degree in Library Sciences. Imagine this position wasn’t just a responsibility you’d chosen, but your very profession. And then to be told you don’t matter. That here, in the very level of school you trained for, your skills aren’t needed.

    Volunteers are a necessity in any community and they should be applauded for their efforts. But what if someone asked them for how to find original documents on the founding of the state? Look on the web? Where? A librarian knows the registries, the National Archives, and probably even helped digitize our local history collections.

    In short, walking into a library without a librarian would be like walking into a doctor’s office and finding a volunteer. You tell them your symptoms, and they click away on the computer and say, “Well, WebMD says you should take Alprazolam for that. I don’t exactly know what it looks like, or where you can get it. You could check the back room, but I don’t really know what’s back there.”

    Our librarians knows the very book you need is in the next county and exactly how long till they can get it to you. Our librarians are professionals, dedicated to helping our students learn, and are a vital part to this school.

  11. TOTAL ASIDE HERE

    Hey Laurie, you’re absolutely right on about the librarians–thanks for fighting the fight. Our county recently tried to close two branches in order to save money; thank goodness, people stood up.

    But I disagree with you when you said “We don’t ask parent volunteers to teach math class.” In fact, every elementary school I know of survives because of parent volunteers who run weekly and even daily reading and math groups, tutor kids who are behind, and so forth, as well as making copies and putting up bulletin boards. Our wonderful teachers are asked to do far too much in too little time, and they can’t do it all. So here come the parents to fill in the gaps.

    Gone are my mother’s days of being a Room Mother back in the 1970s, when duties consisted of planning holiday parties and running fundraisers. Now the Room Mother organizes the reading volunteers and we have no holiday parties.

    1. Re: TOTAL ASIDE HERE

      I think we agree. And I was one of those parent volunteers; usually in awe at how much the teachers achieved, despite the staggering odds.

      The point is there was actually a teacher – though over worked and supplemented by volunteers – in the classroom.

      There are hundreds of thousands of American children who have NO librarians. At all. The volunteers are the only adults in the library. They are kind, good-hearted, and try their best, but they can’t replace a trained professional.

  12. Our Kids Deserve Better

    Terrific post. As a public school librarian, I am disturbed by this nation-wide trend. Research study after study after study has proven that the single best thing schools can do to raise reading scores is to offer kids quality library materials selected and maintained by a professional librarian. What an inexpensive way to educate our children. Yet in times of financial crisis, politicians who often have spent little or no time working in our schools eliminate the single best option. Our children deserve better.

  13. Overall System fail

    As a current children’s librarian and some one who wants to transition into working in the school libraries this is heavy on my mind. We are cutting public library funding, we are cutting funding to universities and academic libraries, and now we’re eliminating school librarians all together. When are these children going to EVER be able to learn research skills? Not to mention without the benefit of libraries reading skills go down.And then politicians sit around and cry that we as a nation are losing our competitive edge in a global market. I understand that money is a concern across the board because of the economy, but of all the places we should be throwing what we have we should be throwing it at our schools and our libraries.

  14. Not All are Evil:)

    Here we have a school board member who is married to the local Children’s Librarian, so he at least sees how important they are (and if he ever forgets, he’s sleeping on the sofa for a while) 🙂

  15. Studies?

    Laurie,
    Would you happen to have links to some of the 60 studies you referenced? In my daughters’ district, all librarians were cut and bookshelves were pushed up against walls. You couldn’t even SEE a book in the high school library. No cuts have been made to athletics. I have been inundating the school board with pro-library literature every chance I get!
    LeeAnn

  16. THANK YOU!!

    As a teacher, I know that districts all over (including mine)are CUTTING JOBS and CUTTING PROGRAMS especially programs that help struggling kids.
    WE ARE SHORTCHANGING OUR KIDS AND OUR FUTURE!!!!

    Thank you Thank you Thank you for getting the word out!!!

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