To all Victorian supporters of school libraries, especially parents
Now five weeks before the Victorian state elections there will never be a better time – in fact this may be the last time – to inform parents, state members, opposition ministers and leaders, and alternative party candidates of what has been allowed to happen in Victoria’s school libraries.
This chance will not come again. School libraries are not sexy. (Some might disagree 🙂 Certainly it is very hard to get our issues into the news. But the federal inquiry has stirred the media to some action. Some parents now know that Victoria pays its school library staff less and gives its students less than NSW, the only state officially with a qualified TL in every school library.
The Inquiry report is secondary. The federal government will probably do what it can. We shall see as soon as the new education and training committee is formed and a report is finalized and tabled. The great thing about the inquiry is the awareness it has created of the need for a qualified TL in every school. This awareness must continue to be extended.
Meanwhile it is state governments which are culpable.
Since the Victorian state government collects no statistics on school library staffing and refused to appear at the federal inquiry, it is hard to know exactly where you stand.
While the ASLRP survey shows Victoria employs TLs in 65% of its schools, figures for Melbourne metropolitan primary schools are probably even lower. Sue Reynolds and Mary Carroll in 2001 found that only 13% of primary schools had teacher librarians. (“Where have all the teacher librarians gone?” Access May 2001)
Since 1983 the number of primary school libraries being staffed by qualified teacher librarians has dropped from fifty five to thirteen per cent! (Reynolds and Carroll, 2001). Twelve per cent of the school libraries surveyed were being managed by someone with no formal qualifications of any kind.
This was almost ten years ago. We know things have not improved. Why has the state government not been called to accounts? Why do parents allow their children to have less qualified professional teacher AND librarian services than other states? Qualified technicians may run a library admirably, but what do children lose with no qualified TL? According to the research:
Key Finding #1: “A school library program that is adequately staffed, resourced, and funded can lead to higher student achievement regardless of the socioeconomic or educational levels of the community.” School Libraries Work! Scholastic, 2008.
Key Finding #2: “Children who attend schools with school libraries with better collections and superior staffing do better on tests of reading.” S. Krashen. “What do we know about libraries and reading achievement?” Book Report, 2002
Key Finding #3: “Students learn more and produce better research products following planned, integrated information skills instruction by the teacher and teacher librarian together.” K. Haycock. “What works: Integrated information skills instruction: Teacher Librarian 25, no. 2:39, 1997
Anne Hazell, in 1988 stated, “Unless (TLs) … act as advocates for their chosen profession, it is unlikely that the profession will survive into the 21st century.” Deputy Chair of the Federal Inquiry into Teacher Librarians and School Libraries in 2010, Dr. Dennis Jensen, agreed.
The Hub has started the campaign. It is now up to each state to formulate their own.
IT’S OVER TO YOU
State a state petition. There will be a required format. Victoria’s petition procedures and format are available here.
Share your letters so that others can easily adapt or use a template. Use the information above.
Write to your local candidates, to the leader of all parties, to the Shadow Minister of Education, Martin Dixon
Greens candidates , and so forth.
Get them all to state their position on having qualified TLs in every school. Let them know you are keeping track.
It’s now or never, Victoria!!