Cuts to school libraries and staffs a sad chapter in education

librarian (Medium)Here is a second essay from the Teaching Georgia Writing Collective, a group of educators, parents, and concerned citizens who engage in public writing and teaching about education in Georgia.

The collective defines its goals as: 1) empowering educators to reclaim their workplace and professionalism, 2) empowering families to stand up for their children and shape the institutions their children attend each day, 3) empowering children and youth to have control over their education, and 4) enhancing the education of all Georgians. The number of participates is growing, representing at least six counties.

Here is the essay:

“If America can increase funding for libraries and librarians, I can only think that America has found one important way to rebuild itself.”

-Stephen Krashen

Stephen Krashen, along with many educational scholars, insists that investing in our libraries and librarians is crucial to building a strong and just America. Research points to high quality school libraries and librarians as key to high achievement for students, especially those from families struggling economically. But when budgets are tight, libraries (or “media centers”), librarians, and Media Center paraprofessionals can too frequently be perceived as unnecessary costs in schools.

The Clarke County school district joins others across Georgia cutting funding for Media Center paraprofessionals. But most people may not even know what a high-quality media center and media center specialist does for student achievement, much less what the job of a paraprofessional is in the media center.

So what does a Media Center paraprofessional do?

A Media Center paraprofessional does research-related activities. She assists students, teachers and parents in finding books, resources, and materials. She also pulls books supporting standards-based lessons for teachers, leads instructional centers during lessons, and assists in creating resource lists and developing the media center collection to meet the needs of students and teachers.

A Media Center paraprofessional carries the heavy burden of maintaining the media center collection. He shelves hundreds of books each week; processes, labels, and shelves new materials; repairs damaged books and materials to keep them in use; inventories all books and materials; creates inviting displays of new materials; and discards unsalvageable materials, runs a variety of reports important to the maintenance of the media center, and tracks overdue notices.

A Media Center paraprofessional is a supervisor. She supervises the library while the school library media specialist teaches, participates in mandatory meetings or repairs technology. And while the librarian/media specialist coaches students for exciting events such as the Battle of the Books or the Helen Ruffin Reading Bowl, the paraprofessional takes the lead to make sure the media center is open and available to students and teachers. She works one on one with students, assists with small group instruction when classrooms have lessons in the library (some librarians see 30 or more classes each week), and she supports students while the media specialist focuses on collection development, writes grants for more materials and plans in-service training for teachers.

As if the Media Center paraprofessional has any spare time given her or his extensive responsibilities with students, teachers, and materials, she or he also provides critical technical support for teachers. And outside the Media Center, they help to supervise and support students all day during breakfast, lunch, car, bus, or hall duty and in computer labs.

Cutting Media Center paraprofessionals is risky business. Beyond losing the most basic hands-on contact and support of children, youth, and teachers, this loss could result in limited implementation of initiatives for 21st Century Schools. These educators are central to a school’s ability to provide technical support and professional development for teachers.

Maybe folks don’t care about that fancy-sounding initiative, but they might recall that special feeling you get when you find those just-right books and wait patiently in line to check them out for the week, or that just-right software program or website for your project. The daily work of the Media Center paraprofessional makes sure that the school library is still that extraordinary place where books, materials, technologies, and all kinds of fascinating resources are displayed to pique students’ interests and support teachers’ learning and teaching. And importantly, they provide encouragement, smiles, and comments on your latest great finds.

Public library usage is up across Georgia, something our state can be proud of. Economic times are difficult and having access to information and resources is an important goal for any democratic society. Cutting funding for school libraries in this critical time of making sure all students have access to the materials, resources, and technological innovation they need to be the best they can be just doesn’t make sense. Surely there are places to cut the budget that wouldn’t impact so directly on the daily lives of children and teachers.

Let’s make sure children have access to the best public school libraries now and help them build library habits that will positively affect their achievements in school and their experiences in life. And as young children and our youth are building strong habits, we adults can invest in our libraries inside and outside schools – one important way to re-build our communities and invest in a better society.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

98 comments Add your comment

Colonel Jack

May 12th, 2012
4:58 pm

I too hate to see Media Center personnel fall under the budget ax — an ax that, at least to all appearances, falls anywhere…EVERYWHERE…except in a school system’s administration. Save the Media Center personnel and cut out some of these executive assistants to the assistant Grand Poobah in the central office. Save teacher jobs that way too. Cut the fat first … when you cut Media Center and teacher staff, you’re cutting the most important muscle the school system has. There’s plenty of fat in any system’s central office that can be done away with first.

Ole Guy

May 12th, 2012
5:03 pm

Point #3, in this list of goals, may be worth exploring just a wee bit further. Today’s youth, unlike their generational contemporaries of yesteryear, have to/no, make that MUST assume “hands-on” control of their educational experiences. Unlike earlier gens…mine included…who, like horses, were led to the trough, these kids have to understand the budgetary constraints under which their schools must function, “grab the (educational) bull by the six, and (as Larry the Cable Guy says) “GET HER DONE”.!

With cuts to school libraries, there is no reason why these kids cannot become frequent patrons of their local county libraries. These facilities provide excellent resources for all age groups.

The (educational) troughs are/will always be available. The youth of this country simply have to/no, make that MUST be willing to exercise that control over their educational destinys.

Ole Guy

May 12th, 2012
5:16 pm

Colonel, with all respect to your comments, you’re not offering any hint of a viable solution; simply another version of that complaint mechanism. Sure, there’s plenty of fat which could stand a lil’ trimin’ before cutting into the “muscle and bone” of the educational process. If your nom du plume/your chosen ID, indicates any military experience at all…and I am quite certain in does, Colonel…than you full-well know that military operations are almost always conducted at under-strength levels, both in terms of personnel and equipment. rather than complain in our SITREPS (situation reports, for you civilians), we shoot, salute, and get on with it. In this time of austerity…whether we agree with it or not…these kids have to assume that responsibility…like the commander; like those individual troops…to accomplish the mission, by hook or by crook. There will always be time to complain; to point out the problems, but, at some point in time, people have to be willing to do whatever it takes. It’s either that, or simply hang head in shame; admit defeat, and (generationaly) die.

A Conservative Voice

May 12th, 2012
5:27 pm

Go to the “County Library”……that’s what we did when we were kids :)

Mary Elizabeth

May 12th, 2012
5:56 pm

I certainly am pleased with the goals, stated above, of the Teaching Georgia Writing Collective. I read the link provided above, also, and I want to highlight a paragraph from it which is taken fro the first essay from the TGWC. See below:
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“We dream of a school system where students aren’t projected to fail and schools don’t produce failure. That school system would encourage teachers to slow down and learn about a student who is struggling and design instruction to make that student successful. We teachers don’t need more textbooks, scripted curricula or software programs, we need time to teach our students in the way that is best for them. And students don’t need more textbooks, scripted curricula or software programs either. They need a less stressful and anxiety-ridden environment and more time in creative, supportive classrooms where they know they are valued and projected to succeed. They need student-centered inquiries back in their school lives, and teachers who do engaging projects with them where they ask questions and find answers.”
—————————————————————————————

In other words, educational systems throughout Georgia do not need a business model for public schools, they simply need the state of Georgia to support, again, public schools and to fund them adequately, including funding Media Center personnel, so that Georgia’s public schools can, again, be the best that is possible, as described in the paragraph, above.

Former Teacher2

May 12th, 2012
5:58 pm

A teacher teaches her subject, takes care of her classroom, and her 30-150 students a day. The media specialist is responsible for ALL of the students in the school and all subject areas. He or she is also in charge of 10-20,000 books, not to mention computers, smart boards, projectors, copiers,and other assorted equipment. She often has early or late lunch (if at all) so that the library is available for students. She is there early and stays late so that students can do research and homework before and after school. Face it – many students will not take the initiative to go to the county library, but they might use the one down the hall. If we are going to invest in media centers (and a lot of money goes into them for books and equipment) we need qualified people to take care of them. One staff person in a library just isn’t enough. A trained media specialist and a trained paraprofessional are worth their weight in gold when it comes to improving student achievement.

Sade

May 12th, 2012
5:58 pm

Unfortunately, most kids frequenting our school Media Center are online playing games or shopping. Reading books or conducting research, I don’t think so.

Lane Meyers

May 12th, 2012
6:00 pm

Going to the county library is a great idea if a child has transportation to it.

I do not understand how a school librarian can teach 5+ classes, check in/ out books, order books, do inventory, reshelve the books, plan for classes, collaborate with teachers, etc. and all of the extra tasks a principal requires by herself. Yet, I do it everyday.

MB

May 12th, 2012
6:03 pm

With the conversion to Common Core GPS next year, media specialists will be even more important as these standards call for much more informational reading. If media centers aren’t adequately staffed, both with media specialists and support staff, this will not be successful. If media specialists have to do the jobs of the parapros/clerks, obviously their ability to meet student needs for information literacy instruction will be impacted negatively.

Doing It All

May 12th, 2012
6:27 pm

Our media specilaist allows me to provide incredibly rich experiences to my students. Without her support I would be limited. All I have to do is have an idea and she does the ground work. I have my hands full with 140 seniors just teaching the curriculum standards and grading essays.She collaborates with almost 100 teachers. Every day she’s teaching or assisting 7 periods a day; many days with no lunch or break. I don’t know how she will manage to keep up with our needs with no paraprofessional next year.

teacher&mom

May 12th, 2012
6:30 pm

@A Conservative Voice: Have you visited a rural “County Library” lately? Step outside your suburban box for awhile and see the selections (especially for young students) in some of the smaller rural counties.

I fail to understand how anyone can support closing libraries.

MB

May 12th, 2012
6:50 pm

“School libraries are a stronger indicator of student success than class size, experience of teacher. number of computers, or location of school.” (FACTS AT A GLANCE. .. Student Achievement and School Library Media Programs) Numerous studies (several longitudinal) show strong correlations between strong library media programs and improved student achievement. One link to a 2008 compilation of such studies: http://www.scholastic.com/content/collateral_resources/pdf/s/slw3_2008.pdf

MB

May 12th, 2012
7:03 pm

A few problems with saying the public library should meet the needs of all these students (outside the obvious problem stated above, which is that the parents won’t get them there). 1) Public library hours and staff have been cut over the past few years. Parents willing and able to get their kids to the library have much more limited evening and weekend hours than before. 2) Public library materials budgets have been cut so they have fewer new materials. Tax dollars have already been spent for the materials in the schools. Should they just sit on the shelves, or should students be encouraged to use them? 3) Public librarians don’t work with teachers to find print, multimedia and online resources to use with their classes. Public librarians won’t come to the schools to help them with their television, LCD projector, etc. They don’t have time to teach students information literacy skills such as evaluating online sources, using credible sources such as GALILEO resources, digital citizenship (including citation of all sources – print, online, images, multimedia, etc.), using the many Web 2.0 options for creating engaging projects. Without adequate staffing of SCHOOL libraries, how will our children learn what they need to know to function in the 21st century?,

bootney farnsworth

May 12th, 2012
7:04 pm

lets face it. effective public education is dead in this nation

Larry Major

May 12th, 2012
7:29 pm

County libraries are taking the same cuts as schools for the same reason – lower real estate appraisals mean taxpayers are paying less in taxes and the revenue simply doesn’t exist.

Until the economy recovers, it isn’t choice between good or better; it’s a matter of getting through the year on a lot less money.

a teacher

May 12th, 2012
8:11 pm

In this doggie eat dog world, I only care about myself now. I teach just for the paycheck. If you think that sucks and I should quit, screw you. After years of bending backwards at my school and then to be treated like crap and used by the staff and students, they can all go to ****. I will teach to the ones who want to learn, and for the ones who don’ t care can die in a gutter.

conlibe

May 12th, 2012
8:46 pm

Porn and the Boston Public Library
conlibe.wordpress.com

What if some sex addict is watching PORN at the county library…? Would you send your kids there?

WHO agrees that: When you walk into a public library with your kids they should see graphic, full-color pornography because SOMEBODY IS WATCHING PORN ON A LIBRARY COMPUTER?

Get porn OFF computers at our Public Libraries.

Link: http://www.change.org/petitions/should-public-libraries-allow-porn

Ed Johnson

May 12th, 2012
8:51 pm

“We dream of a school system where students aren’t projected to fail and schools don’t produce failure.”

@Mary Elizabeth, want to see a school system where some students are projected to fail?

Well, it’s Atlanta Public Schools, where the system’s vision asks for ten percent of student to graduate failures:

“The district’s vision is that APS will be one of the nation’s highest performing urban school systems, where 90 percent of its ninth-graders graduate from high school in four years ready for success in college or career.” (Accessed 5/12/2012)
http://www.atlantapublicschools.us//site/Default.aspx?PageID=308

ahsoisee

May 12th, 2012
9:19 pm

Do away with all libraries, they are “passe”. With Google and electronic bookpads, mony on libraries is a waste. Sell all the libraries and books, and fire all the employees. This will save a lot of money in each county immediately, plus, removing all monetary liabilities of upkeep and salaries.

Rodney Kent

Jeff

May 12th, 2012
9:30 pm

Everyone agrees we need to spend less, just not on their issue that is so incredibly important that every dollar is like life and death.

So here we are, and we get what we deserve.

bootney farnsworth

May 12th, 2012
9:54 pm

@ a teacher,

I’m with you.

a teacher

May 12th, 2012
10:17 pm

Im sorry to sound so nasty but it is truly how I feel .

bootney farnsworth

May 12th, 2012
10:22 pm

I see APS is now cutting custodians, but no mention of the top heavy admin types

wovoka

May 12th, 2012
10:28 pm

Central office IS the place to make the cuts. We have a 1/2 time media specialist at our high school of 900. We have 2 certified music teachers who see hundreds of different kids per day who are being paid as paraprofessionals. I am embarrassed to say our school board approved this. One school board member was not even aware of it (scary) Just because the central office can get away with it does not make it right. the superintendent was down to get a $30,000.00 raise over the next year until taxpayers raised hell about it. Pay our teachers first. Central office personnel we can mostly do without. The teachers are the most important. Our children get so much joy from music class. It is a stress reliever for them and they benefit greatly from the wonderful, kind teachers. Our superintendent has the school board snowed. She tells THEM what to do. They rarely ask questions because they are such “nice” people. The superintendent cries when she is questioned by someone in the community. Our good teachers are leaving..at least those who can find jobs..there are dozens looking. Others are simply miserable as they have too much invested in their homes they can’t sell for them to be able to go somewhere else.
We are in a time of money constraints. When times are good we can afford the extras. But times are not good. It is a time for central office personnel and pay cuts.

Former Middle School Teacher

May 12th, 2012
11:29 pm

Let’s drop the pretense and allow ALEC to create legislation for Georgia to end Public education. I mean it wouldn’t take much to change the Constitution. Then the private companies who could come in and do a better job.

wovoka

May 13th, 2012
12:26 am

set limits and freeze pay raises for anyone making $100,000. This include superintendents and all central office staff. Public education is just that..public educators should make decent salaries. But a new teacher should not have to struggle, while someone in administration gets richer and richer. So many administrators talk their way into huge raises the last few years before they retire. Retirement income is based on 2 highest years. There is no real “scale” for administrative positions. An admin’s pay is based on how well he or she is able to snow or brown-nose. It is not based upon performance. In our school system, the leaders who are “real” and admit there are issues and problems in their schools are paid significantly less than leaders who put a spin on or try to cover things up. The truth is, nobody wants to hear about problems that could be solved to make things so much better. They had rather remain ignorant and pretend everything is perfect.

Library Lady

May 13th, 2012
12:42 am

Cutting important programs and needed employees is not the answer. It makes me ill to think that many administrators are getting rich off of the backs of teachers and staff—those who are actually educating students. I realize this is par for the course for everything now, but education is different because our children are the losers. There is so much corruption and politics at the top. I do not think it will ever be cleaned up. It is depressing as an educator and a mother.

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Georgians for Educational Excellence

May 13th, 2012
3:30 am

When will we Georgians demand that our public school systems face independent audits of their finanaces and personnel to increase the probability that our tax monies are being effectively and efficiently expended?

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Georgians for Educational Excellence

May 13th, 2012
3:35 am

For shame: Bucks County, PA, the home of the late James Michener, had targeted public libraries for drastic cuts a couple of years ago. Apparently both public and school libraries are seen as “easy marks” by some myopic bureaucRATS.

Stephen Krashen

May 13th, 2012
3:39 am

Credit where credit is due: the quote at the start of this article is indeed from me, but it is based on a what Isaac Asimov said: “When I read about the way in which library funds are being cut and cut, I can only think that American society has found one more way to destroy itself.”

Two Cents

May 13th, 2012
4:16 am

The Palace continues with its way overpaid staff and bloat; the School Board continues with catering to high rent district schools; and education in DeKalb continues to decline. What a sad state for our children. Give us parents the $7,000 per year they say they spend on each child and let us educate our kids. We get nothing for having to take our kids to school each day to keep them from being bullied; we have bus drivers who are among the bullies and yet we get no transportation allowance. DeKalb is the pits,

Beverly Fraud

May 13th, 2012
4:46 am

Is there ANY chapter in public education that isn’t a “sad chapter?” There may be a page or two that is uplifting, but chapters?

Two Cents

May 13th, 2012
7:00 am

The great teachers have gotten me through the past eight years. Great principal at Middle School. School Board and palace bloat has been hazardous to my mental and physical health.

Good Mother

May 13th, 2012
7:11 am

a taecher says “In this doggie eat dog world, I only care about myself now. I teach just for the paycheck. If you think that sucks and I should quit, screw you. After years of bending backwards at my school and then to be treated like crap and used by the staff and students, they can all go to ****. I will teach to the ones who want to learn, and for the ones who don’ t care can die in a gutter.”

….a teacher says she wants our kids to die in a gutter and yet not a single teacher on this blog calls her out on it. And you wonder why we parents are asking for charters? THIS TEACHER is why we parents are demanding charters and other options. The government takes my money and wants to force me to send my kids to school with a teacher who wants my children to “diet in a gutter” and that is “how she truly feels.”
Exactly why we’re going to private schools, charter schools and getting the heck out of dodge.

APS Mess

May 13th, 2012
8:31 am

I got the Email at 7pm Friday night “inviting” me to report to the Frederick Douglass High School gymnasium on Saturday for another round of interviews for a “new” position. Principals gathered at their tables and we brought in our copies of our Teaching Certificates and our Resumes for their perusal. Another round of Speed Dating ur uh… Speed Interviewing. You have 10 minutes to answer a set of questions with each principal. almost every high school, middle school and elementary school was there but you probably couldn’t get in more than 3 or 4 interviews because of the lines. They have a buzzer to start and end and they give you 3 minutes to transition. Of course, you never got to interview with the more popular schools because the lines were too long. Apparently the Media Specialists, and counselors at the small APS high schools forced to go still have their jobs. They did not have to attend.
Count your blessings Media Specialists. It was one of the most humiliating experiences I have ever had to go through. Most of the principals, assistant principals and academy leaders were respectful, only a few laughed at us and whispered things to principals at other schools about us.
You wondered what was going on. Principals who had lost their jobs were interviewing for positions for the schools they weren’t going to return to. Additionally, we were told that the Small High Schools were going to revert back to their original traditional high school (with small learning communities). There was so much false advertising; they gave us a sheet and said that there were so many positions available but when you got to the table, the principals said the positions had been filled.
So there we were, herded around like sheep… speed interviewing and knowing that this was it. And then you began to realize who was at the fair…whistleblowers. I saw a teacher who had been shoved by an administrator with a door, a teacher who had reported cheating at the high school level (using courses with wrong labels to cover up coaching classes for the EOCT), one who had reported administrators who weren’t providing services for special needs students, one who had reported a teacher helping students on the EOCT Math I examination. You learn a lot of things standing in line.
You had your usual grumbling from the elementary and middle school teachers about not being responsible for the closing of their schools. You noticed an awfully disproportionate number of older, heavier female teachers and quite a bit of laughing by administrators. I wanted to go to Grady…they didn’t bother to show up. Then you look up and some principals are visiting others tables and laughing and cackling while you’re standing in line wondering if you will have money to buy food come August.
So, Media Specialists…I am sorry but welcome to my world. And, I had a great evaluation. APS has a mess with the cheating scandal costs and the rest of us have to suffer especially those of us who have reported the cheating in high schools. They can’t afford another investigation…they really don’t want to look at the dirt in those small schools.

Retired Teacher

May 13th, 2012
8:39 am

During my 40+ years as a public school teacher in several states, I’ve found the biggest indicator of a successful school was the quality of the library media program. Eliminating media center paraprofessionals is comparable to cutting front office secretaries. Just as we surely do not want a principal spending her time doing the clerical duties performed by the school secretary, we do not want outstanding media specialists performing the duties of the media center paraprofessionals as described above.

To Media Specialists

May 13th, 2012
9:00 am

At least you did not have to endure speed dating ur uh…speed interviewing at the invitation only APS Job Fair. Middle and Elementary School Teachers got 4 invitations…Small High School teachers only 2.

Mikey D

May 13th, 2012
9:05 am

@a teacher:
Sounds like it’s time to explore other career options.
I get frustrated with the lawmakers and their nonsense, the administrative hubbub, the uninvolved parents, and the uncaring students as well. But I can guarantee you that anytime I find myself with the attitude that any of my students could just “die in a gutter” will be the day that I pack my stuff and hit the road. At this point, with that attitude, you’re part of the problem my friend.

A Conservative Voice

May 13th, 2012
9:16 am

@teacher&mom

May 12th, 2012
6:30 pm

@A Conservative Voice: Have you visited a rural “County Library” lately? Step outside your suburban box for awhile and see the selections (especially for young students) in some of the smaller rural counties.

I fail to understand how anyone can support closing libraries.

To Teacher & Mom – T&M, I don’t support closing libraries……I only made a suggestion in the event that there is not a school library anymore. Besides, most students now days have online access…….most everything is out there……it’s not like the school library is the only source of information…….c’mon, T&M, lighten up a bit, have fun, be happy :) Remember to vote on November 6, 2012.

bootney farnsworth

May 13th, 2012
9:24 am

GPC is a cautionary warning of what is to come.
we have mismanaged education in this state for so long I honestly don’t see how we can fix it

Mary Elizabeth

May 13th, 2012
9:55 am

Ed Johnson, 8:51 pm, May 12

@Mary Elizabeth, want to see a school system where some students are projected to fail?

Well, it’s Atlanta Public Schools, where the system’s vision asks for ten percent of student to graduate failures. . .”
===========================================================

Ed, if 10% of the yearly incoming 600 9th grade students – of my last high school – were to fail to graduate, that would be 60 students of that class who would be high school drop outs. In four years, that number of dropouts would have accrued to 240 students, and the number of drop outs would continue to accrue, year after year.

I agree that educators should set a goal that 100% of students will graduate from high school, but given that, currently, in the state of Georgia, only 67% of students graduate from high school, that means that 33% of students, statewide, currently have become high school drop outs. That number may even be higher for the Atlanta Public Schools. So, as the educational leaders in the APS were writing the projected goals for the APS, they probably thought that a 90% success rate was commendable. If the APS were to raise graduation rates by 23+%, that would be commendable. However, I do agree with you that the goal of any school system should be not to lose even one student to drop out status.

As the writer of the first essay of the TGWC wrote, “That school system would encourage teachers to slow down and learn about a student who is struggling and design instruction to make that student successful.” Teachers need the vote of confidence, professional autonomy, and training to do just that.
————————————————————–

ALSO, Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers, including Maureen Downey, Teacher and Mom, and myself!

Let us, all, enjoy “our day” with our children. What could be a sweeter gift than that?!

DCSD Teacher

May 13th, 2012
10:10 am

Closing school libraries would be a disaster, but upgrading them and training media specialists and support staff should be a high priority. In many schools in DeKalb County, media staff are not up to speed on modern technology, including Promethean Boards, which have been in schools for years now. Ask them about phone apps or for help with MS Office software that’s installed on the library computers, for instance, and you’ll get a blank look, yet these are the technologies they should understand because it’s what kids use. In many DeKalb schools, libraries stand empty many hours each day while staff members spend their time hanging out in the back office talking with each other. In these settings, student computers “don’t work right”, flash drive ports aren’t functional, and “the network must be down” is a constant refrain. It’s not media centers that are irrelevant, but the professionals.who work in them need to come up to the 21st century.

Batgirl

May 13th, 2012
10:22 am

In my system, we middle and high school media specialists have been without parapros for two years. At the elementary level, parapros are pulled to substitute for absent teachers and to pass out meds because we have no school nurses.

We also have not received our funding since January 2009. Our finance director tried to tell us that the state does not provide that money anymore, but we called his hand on that one. Of course, since our brilliant legislature enacted a rule last year that says systems can use media money anywhere they need to, his lies don’t matter. He has told us flat out that we will never get our budgets back and that we should just look for grants if we want to buy books. Over the past three years, my library has received a grant of over $3000 from my personal checking account. If my kids need books, I buy them. The entire library budget for my county (not including personnel) is about $85-90K. We cannot afford this, yet our system spent half a million on a computerized reading program that is supposed to work miracles. Oh, and our agriculture department and Future Farmers of America are funded beyond belief even though we only have about five farm families in our county. Why? Because three of those families are the superintendent’s, the finance director’s and a board member’s.

As for those media specialists who are seeing 30+ classes a week, these are mostly elementary folks being forced to see every class so that each classroom teacher gets a little extra planning time. The OCGA still states that we are supposed to have a flexible schedule, not fixed. This practice is not legal but forced on MS’s by their principals and should be stopped, especially if you have no parapro/clerk. Band together and demand that this practice stop. The rest of us will stand with you.

Batgirl

May 13th, 2012
10:26 am

Oh, Maureen, thank you so much for this article. It sometimes seems that we library media specialists are forgotten in the education debate.

Cheri

May 13th, 2012
10:31 am

Numerous studies validate the importance of the school library–a recent study by Todd and Hofschire (2011) found that states which gained school librarians had a greater rise in reading scores while states that had lost librarians had an overall decline in scores. Georgia can not afford to lose school library media specialists and library support personnel. Yes, sometimes students are ‘hanging out’ and playing games in the school library but those same kids feel comfortable in the library and will return to ask library staff for academic help. It’s a ’safe’ place for kids who aren’t part of a clique in school. The school librarian, as someone earlier pointed out, contributes to the learning of ALL students in a school as well as being a resource for teachers who don’t have time to track down specific types of lessons to differentiate instruction and to better help students who learn ‘to a different drummer’ than the majority. A good school library media specialist/librarian promotes reading–if you can learn to read well, you can learn to do anything!

Buzz144

May 13th, 2012
10:42 am

It is time to shrug off this inefficient and ineffective monopoly school system. It is time for school vouchers. Let the education tax money follow the children. Let the child and parents decide which is the best school for their money. Take the power out of the government and put it back in the hands of the people. Power to the people!

Michelle

May 13th, 2012
10:46 am

I am in a county where they cut our media clerks to half time this year and next year they cut them completely. I am also a media specialist. I serve a school of 1400 students and 100+ staff. I am so worried about next year how am I going to be able to do my job. It was really hard this year her half time. I could be in the middle of teaching and the phone would ring or I would have students at the circ desk and I would have to stop what I was doing to take of that. I would have tons of books that have to be shelved and they would have to wait. I have students volunteer to help but I would find things still out of place etc. my principal says he has faith in me but I feel like he is the only one…

Michelle

May 13th, 2012
10:49 am

Buzz144 do you realize letting the funds go where the child is will hurt the school systems. If a person decides their child is going to private school or home school that money goes there public schools lose that money.

FCS Teacher

May 13th, 2012
10:49 am

@Two cents

You’re not going to get much of an education for $7000. Look at what the good private schools in Atlanta charge for tuition. What you will get for your $7000 is a fly by night private school that will take your money, provide a terrible education, and will be gone after a year or two with your money.

If Dekalb is the problem, then move.

bootney farnsworth

May 13th, 2012
11:28 am

vouchers are not the answer.
it sounds good, feels good, but would be hamstrung by reality.

voucher supporters seem to assume just because they have a voucher
the system they want wants them.

why should Peachtree Ridge or Milton take in some kid from APS or DCSS
who is very likely behind in academics, social standing, and may well be
a discipline issue?

-unless of course they play holy football, then they can be illiterate rapists
and be welcomed with open arms.