Under threat: Tight school budgets force librarians into classrooms http://bit.ly/P4MEJC What are your thoughts #adelaide? @aeusa
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Tags: funding, school autonomy, South Australia
Categories : AEU, autonomy, Empowering Local Schools, school autonomy, School Based Management, South Australia
Today education minister Peter Garrett issued a release that the National Partnership Agreements will be extended to 1000 more schools next year.
Please let parents and citizens know they are being hoodwinked. Write to local papers. Spread the truth of NPAs and local control.
Parents and citizens beware. Global budgeting and staffing in schools is sold to the community as a way for principals and schools to determine their own needs. In reality, they have become a means by which governments of all persuasions have been able to continually slash education budgets without having to wear the pain. The responsibility, and blame, is handed over to local school principals and parent boards.
Our situation is part of a much larger issue of declining education funding. Over the past 20 years, education funding in Australia has declined, as funding in other OECD countries has increased. We are now among the lowest funding countries in the developed world, 28th after Lithuania and Greece.
Under local control of staffing, principals have to hire from reduced budgets and cash in specialist teachers no longer quarantined in staffing formulas. The National Partnership Agreements give schools extra funds to experiment with staffing mixes. What a surprise that they are happier with more staff! But with the reality of state funding cuts, this school based management is the reason we have hemorrhaged specialist teachers such as counsellors and teacher librarians around the country for the past two decades.
Now NSW wants to follow suit. Don’t be hoodwinked by Local Schools, Local Decisions. There is plentiful evidence to show qualified teacher librarians improve student literacy and learning. There is no evidence to show that localized staffing, and the dismantling of a state transfer system which ensures teachers in country regions, will improve student learning.
NSWTF on 47 NPA trial schools <http://www.nswtf.org.au/journal/education-92-11/index.html>
NSW next in line <http://hubinfo.wordpress.com/2011/10/11/nsw-next-in-line/>
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Tags: funding, NPAs
Categories : Empowering Local Schools, letter template, Local Decisions, Local Schools, National Partnership Agreements, NSW, Peter Garrett, School Based Management
According to the Children’s Book Council of Australia survey (2010) submitted, sectors and schools vary markedly in school library funding. The average library budget for an Anglican school was $44,762; for independent schools $37,220; for Catholic schools, $20,732 and for government schools: $10,606. (36% of these were $5,000 or less. 3% were $1,000 or less.) In NT schools, most of which are remote, over half have budgets under $500 according to the 2008 Australian School Library Research Project.
Yet the issue of funding is sidelined in the School Library Inquiry Report. ASLA had suggested “The Ministers of Education establish a formula for funding the resource collection of school libraries Australia-wide based on a minimum per-capita amount and negotiate with Governments to commit to meeting a national funding agreement for school libraries on an annual basis” (ASLA sub). This has not happened.
Since the 2008 Council of Australian Governments’ intergovernmental agreement, federal funding has been handed over to states and territories “providing them with increased flexibility” (Report p. 12). Although school libraries in Australia virtually came into existence through federal funding for resources and training, they do not see this as their role now.
Yet grants could be given to BER libraries, for DER programs in libraries, for literacy through libraries. There are many ways the federal government can fund school libraries, as they have in the past. At the least a much need increase in public school funding would directly affect library budgets.
While reducing the cost of online database subscriptions is recommended, the question of funding is left to
The Committee recommends that the Commonwealth Government, through the Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood and Youth Affairs, discuss ways to enhance partnerships with state and territory and local levels of government to support school libraries and teacher librarians.
So it remains for us, concerned parents, citizens, educators and school library supporters to continue to press the state and federal governments for funding standards and adequate, dedicated funding.
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Tags: funding, Inquiry Report
Categories : funding, Inquiry into School Libraries
The Australian School Library Association Conference next week in Perth is an opportunity to rededicate ourselves as teachers, librarians, parents, writers, and citizens to reversing the decline of school libraries in this country.
The Australian School Libraries Research Project (ASLRP) by ALIA, ASLA and Edith Cowan University, provides us initial “snapshots” on the current state of school library services in Australia (Barbara Combes, 2008) .
What it shows is a great inequity between school library staffing and funding across Australian schools.
The survey found that the majority of school library budgets are abysmal! Half of the government school budgets are under $5000, and one in six budgets are under $1000. In NT schools, most of which are remote, over half have budgets under $500!
Staffing in declline
The survey showed that 35% of government school libraries have no teacher librarians. Approximately two thirds of all schools have either no teacher librarian or less than one Full Time Equivalent (FTE) working in their school library. After the Northern Territory (5%), Tasmania (50%), Western Australia (almost 60%) and Victoria (65%) have the lowest number of TLs employed K-12 across all sectors. Instead there are high numbers of library technicians in Tasmania and Victoria and library officers in Western Australia.
Previous state surveys illustrate the downward slide. A discussion paper from the State Library of Tasmania noted a decline of nearly fifty per cent in the number of teacher librarians in Tasmanian schools in the period 1996-2000. (“Enhancing Student Outcomes with Improved Information Services and Provisioning”, 2000).
A position paper by the AEU Tasmanian Branch noted in 2000 that teacher aides were increasingly replacing teacher librarians, with one third of schools surveyed not having professional TLs. (“Leading the way: The changing role of the teacher librarian”). The ASLRP survey now places this at almost 50%.
While the ASLRP survey shows Victoria employs TLs in 65% of its schools, figures for Melbourne metropolitan primary schools may be even lower. Reynolds and Carroll in 2001 found that only 13% of primary schools had teacher librarians. (“Where have all the teacher librarians gone?” Access May 2001)
In South Australia in 2002, apart from those very small schools with no teacher librarian entitlement, a third of school libraries around the state were understaffed and/or staffed with unqualified personnel (Spence, “Survey highlights major problems with library staffing”, AEU Journal, 4 December 2002).
As Michelle Lonsdale stated in 2003, the “devolution of financial management to schools means that funding for school libraries relies on the resource allocation priorities established by the school community, which might or might not place a high priority on the need for a well-staffed library system.” (Impact of school libraries on student achievement, ACER). There is pressure in all state departments of education for this devolution, flexibility and choice in school staffing. Teacher librarians, where they have existed, are often being “cashed in” for classroom or other specialist teachers, or pushed increasingly into the classroom themselves.
In 1988, the Australian Library Summit deplored the lack of statistics relating to school library services. There is still no systematically collected national data. ALIA and ASLA together with ECU have given us the beginning of those statistics to work with. The ASLRP has provided a complex set of results, with many variables yet to be analysed, but little in it paints a good picture of the state of school libraries in this country, especially government schools.
Anne Hazell stated in 1988, after the initial regression of the 1980s in school library staffing, that unless (TLs) … act as advocates for their chosen profession, it is unlikely that the profession will survive into the 21st century.” We are well and truly on that edge.
So, here is a preview of The Hub’s conference paper, Getting the Word Out.
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Tags: ASLA, funding, staffing, statistics
Categories : advocacy, staffing, Tasmania
Has mid-winter malaise set in with you too? Hard to take myself away from a good book in front of the fire, until I rouse myself to remember every Australian child needs a good book too! And someone to recommend it.
So let’s say it again.
We need to let politicians and the public know how inequitable school library services are in Australia, whether we have nice new BER “infrastructure” buildings or not.
Northern Territory remote schools have no teacher librarians (TLs). Western Australian primary schools have no TLs appointed. Victoria and the ACT count TLs as part of teaching staff, may or may not have a teacher deployed in the library and do not require that teacher to be a teacher librarian. Probably one in ten public primary schools in Victoria have TLs and more and more secondary teacher librarians are being replaced by less expensive librarian options.
An Australian Education Union survey of South Australian government school library staffing in 2001 found that “a third of all schools are understaffed and/or staffed with unqualified personnel” (Spence 2002). South Australian teacher librarian positions are under further threat in current enterprise agreement negotiations. Even in Tasmania and Queensland, principals are being forced by inadequate staffing budgets to downgrade staff in school libraries, often to clerical positions.
It’s not good enough.
Meanwhile, since the early 1970s, NSW primary schools have been staffed with trained teacher librarians. While too often used for teacher relief planning time (and therefore unable to easily plan collaborative teaching themselves), they nevertheless are professionally trained in collection management, literacy support, leadership, collaborative teaching and other unique whole school skills.
If we are talking about equity, if we are talking about improving literacy and information literacy, if we are talking about authentic, resource-based learning and quality teaching, we must agree that ALL Australian students deserve professional school library services managed by professionally trained teacher librarians.
Write to your federal and state representatives now. Write to your national and state parent associations. Write to your national and state teacher unions. Write to your capital city and local newspapers. Pass this message on to your friends, colleagues and decision makers now.
And don’t be fobbed off by federal members who say it’s the state’s responsibility. In the past, immense measures were made federally to improve Australian school libraries. In the present, here are some questions to ask your local federal member.
What can and will the federal government do:
- to assess the current quality of all school library staffing, funding, and scheduling?
- to tie funding so that states can and must adequately staff and fund school library programs and services?
- to ensure inclusion of the role of teacher librarians in all literacy, information literacy and quality teaching and learning policies and documents?
- to develop national school library standards?
- to increase teacher librarian training positions in university programs?
- to include an understanding of the collaborative role of teacher librarians in preservice teacher training?
Ask direct questions, until you get direct answers.
Now to copy and paste a few letters, and get back to my good book. Lucky me. I always had a good school librarian.
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Tags: funding, letters
Categories : advocacy, staffing
post from G Phillips
Federal budget time looms around the corner on the 12th of May.
Do we have anything to say about it?
You bet we do. Ask your federal member and senator now (then also ask your state member!):
The federal government will still be spending money on building new school libraries. How about staffing them?
We need to let politicians and the public know how inequitable school library services are in Australia, whether we have nice new “infrastructure” buildings or not. NT remote schools have no TLs. WA primary schools have no TLs appointed. Vic and ACT count TLs as part of teaching staff, may or may not have a teacher deployed in the library and do not require that teacher to be a teacher librarian. Probably one in 10 public primary schools in Vic have TLs. In South Australia in 2002 apart from those very small schools with no teacher librarian entitlement, a third of school libraries around the state were understaffed and/or staffed with unqualified personnel.
Even in Tas and Qld principals are being forced by inadequate staffing budgets to downgrade staff in school libraries, often to clerical positions. It’s not good enough.
Meanwhile, since the early 70s NSW primary schools have been staffed with trained teacher librarians. While too often used for teacher relief planning time, they nevertheless are professionally trained in collection management, literacy support, leadership, collaborative teaching and other unique TL professional standards. If we are talking about equity, I know we agree that ALL Aus students deserve professional school library services run by professionally trained TLs.
What can the federal government do?
National standards can be written for school library facilities and staffing, especially primary libraries.
Dollars can be allocated to increase teacher librarian training positions in university programs.
Federal state school funding can be tied to appropriate school library staffing levels.
The federal government will still be spending money on computers. How can we make sure students can use them?
MCEETYA (Performance Measurement and Reporting Taskforce, 2005) defines ICT literacy as being able to“access, manage and evaluate information, develop new understandings, and communicate with others in order to participate effectively in society” (Statements of Learning for ICT, 2006).
The Council of Australian University Librarians defines information literacy almost identically: “an understanding and set of abilities enabling individuals to recognise when information is needed and have the capacity to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information” (CAUL, 2005). Bringing these literacies (an example matrix) together should be a future aim for MCEETYA. A learning statement on information and ICT literacy should be supported by a national statement on the role of teacher librarians, teachers and principals in creating information literate school communities.
The federal government will still be spending money on a National Schools Assessment and Data Centre. Will they be collecting appropriate data on school libraries?
We must make sure that separate data is collected on teacher librarian qualifications, library staffing and scheduling and on library funding across all states and territories and all sectors. (See US example.) This must be part of the government’s “transparency and accountability” policy.
The federal government will still be spending money on improving literacy. The role of teacher librarians and school libraries must be recognized in these efforts.
The federal government could fund programs similar to the US Improving Literacy Through School Libraries grants program.
The government should fund research into the effect of well-staffed, well-funded school libraries on improving literacy. 1997 was one of the last in Australia! This study indicated that “Extensive use of the school library can increase literacy achievement by as many as 27 points. J. Masters and M. Forster. Mapping Literacy Achievement: Results of the 1996 national School English Literacy Survey. ACER, Melbourne, 1997.
International research speaks strongly. Teacher librarians give students the opportunity to read by providing materials of interest and books appropriate to each student’s reading level. In addition, school library programs provide ready access to books. According to Stephen Krashen it is unnecessary to urge young people to read more and understand the importance of reading because, given the chance, they do in fact read quite a bit, and they certainly do understand the importance of reading…. More access to reading results in more reading.
All literacy programs should explicitly recognize the central role school libraries have in “student achievement, literacy attainment, and preparation for post-secondary success” (Ontario Coalition for School Libraries) .
So let our federal members and senators know we expect to see school libraries targeted in the budget! Attach copies of your letters in comment space below. School libraries make a difference!
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Tags: funding, Gillard, information literacy, IT and libraries, literacy, national standards, staffing, statistics
Categories : advocacy, funding, information literacy, IT and libraries, politicians, school libraries, staffing
I was possibly one of a few who caught the PM’s “fireside chat” announcing the latest economic stimulus package. Everyone else, including my husband, was rightly still at the beach. And I surely was one of a small minority who let out a whoop when school libraries were mentioned!! Now that the dog and I have settled down, memory nags. Didn’t something like this happen back in the 70s? Some 1200 new secondary libraries were built by 1977 with Commonwealth grants, following intense lobbying by ASLA, LAA (now ALIA), ALPC, state government and other groups and individuals.
I can tell you it was an exciting time to be visiting new NSW school libraries armed with that powerful departmental furniture catalogue!!
Yet a survey of all state and territory supervisors of school libraries at that time found that by 1978 there were only some 3500 qualified (at least the equivalent of one term full-time training in school librarianship) teacher librarians in Australia, although 5000 more were needed to meet the standards outlined in the Schools Commission’s standards, Books and Beyond.
Since then, no one is even keeping track. The federal government can not tell you how many TLs there are in school libraries. How many “state and territory supervisors of school libraries” even exist anymore to ask? ALIA can not tell you how many TL graduates there are in Australia. ASLA can not tell you how many TLs are needed to be trained to staff Australia’s 6,853 (2007 figures) government schools to their professional standards. State departments of education don’t even distinguish between classroom teachers and teacher librarians in their staffing statistics. So they can’t tell you which schools have no teacher librarians, let alone what training their TLs might have.
Yet there IS anecdotal evidence and some preliminary data which shows that all too few Australian primary school libraries are staffed to professional standards. For example, possibly up to half the primary schools in Victoria do not have teacher librarians. The Northern Territory has very few professionally trained primary teacher librarians and none in remote schools, and government primary schools in Western Australia are not staffed with teacher librarians.
So we ask the question (updated) which was asked in the 1970s:
What use are 21st century primary school libraries if they are not staffed by 21st century teacher librarians?
Today might be a good day to ask a state senator (click for sample letter and suggested email addresses).
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Tags: funding, primary libraries, statistics, TL training
Categories : funding, politicians, school libraries, staffing, TL training