A letter from Victorian parents to their candidates

27 10 2010

27 October, 2010

To candidate (find some of your candidates here  Victoria Lower House Liberal candidates,  Victoria Upper House Liberal candidates,  Victorian Green Candidates,  Victorian ALP members/candidates )

:

Dear Ms. …..,

Re:  Library funding – ….. Primary School

I am writing to raise the matter of library funding for our local public school, …. Primary, where my children attend.  Currently our school receives no government funding for a range of resources because we have less than 200 students.  This means no funding at all for library equipment, resources or staffing.

Studies over the past two decades have consistently highlighted the direct correlation between student achievement and well-staffed school library programs.  Australian research has also confirmed that extensive use of the school library is associated with a significant difference in students’ literacy achievements.  Qualified teacher librarians (T.L.s) staffing these libraries make a difference to student literacy and learning.  Reading scores rise. Students read more.  Their writing, spelling and vocabulary improve. Academic results improve regardless of socio-economic considerations.  The national standard recommended by the Australian School Library Association is one T.L. per 318 primary students.

Considering this evidence, combined with the many submissions made to the Federal Inquiry into School Libraries and T.L.s and the much publicised emphasis on improving literacy levels in schools, it is hard to fathom why our school is not granted any government funding at all to support a school library or a qualified T.L. for even 2 days per week.

We run a very successful Japanese bilingual immersion program and I understand that Asian Pacific language development has been identified as a growth priority for schools.  Surely ours would be a school to which you would like to attract students.  How though, are we expected to compete for enrolments against other schools when we do not get funding for a  resource that is so intrinsically linked to positive academic results?  A library should not be regarded as a luxury – it is a necessary part of a school.

Currently our library is funded and supported entirely by Parents’ Club fundraising efforts and parent volunteers who recognise the importance of the library as the intellectual hub of the school.  We work tirelessly to provide this for our children but this means that vital fundraising money is not available for “extras”.   What we need is the government funding that will allow us to support our library and employ a qualified T.L. – something that is compulsory in New South Wales!

The Victorian government must take the initiative. If you truly care about improving literacy and information literacy, about authentic, resource-based learning and quality teaching, and if we are talking about equity, we must agree that ALL Australian students deserve professional school library services managed by professionally trained T.L.s.

In helping me to decide where I will cast my vote at these forthcoming elections, I ask:-

Do you support the campaign for a qualified T.L. in every school?

How do plan to support strong school library programs that are adequately funded and staffed with trained T.L.s in order to achieve the national goals for literacy and information literacy?

What will you do to provide equitable funding levels across all schools for resource purchase and T.L. staffing?

I thank you in anticipation of your support and plan to post your response for the consideration of other community members who agree that well resourced school libraries are a vital part of our children’s education.

Yours faithfully,

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