Now South Australia

7 12 2010

It seems that the South Australian DET has now followed the lead of Victoria and Tasmania to allow principals to staff teacher librarians or not.  Henley High School in South Australia lost one teacher librarian last year and will lose its other at the end of this year.  Not only will they have no TLs, soon they will have no library. The library is being turned into a study hall and resources spread around the school.  Now there’s a great idea! One which existed fifty years ago before we found a central library with knowledgeable and enthusiastic professional staff encouraged literacy and supported learning!

The principal and management and the staff who didn’t speak up against this decision will be called to account by parents when literacy and learning decline.

Parents should write to henleyhs@henleyhs.sa.edu.au and ask the questions found at our parents’ site: My School Library

Why should your students be disadvantaged?  On average, private Anglican schools have two teacher librarians and three times the budgets of state schools.  Do they know something the Henley administrators don’t?

While you are at it, better write to the local member who is also on the school’s council(!) Mr. Paul CAICA Colton@parliament.sa.gov.au  He also went to the school himself and had the very real benefits of a library and teacher librarian.  He should see that students of today also have these benefits!

Another former student is the SA Minister of Education, Hon. Mr Jay Weatherill, MP. He can be contacted at  decsminedcs@sa.gov.au  or cheltenham@parliament.sa.gov.au

Some educating is badly needed!  As far back as 1996 a federal mapping of literacy showed that “Extensive use of the school library was associated with a difference of as many as 27 points to students’ literacy achievements when compared with nonuse of the library.” (Mapping Literacy Achievement: Results of the 1996 National School English Literacy Survey, 1997).

More recently, Nathan Godfrey of Softlink undertook a survey which showed “There was a significant positive correlation between a school’s library budget and NAPLAN Reading Literacy scores. Importantly, there was also a significant positive correlation between the number of school librarians employed in the school and literacy scores  ” (Softlink Inquiry submission).

And how can educators and policy makers ignore over 60 other studies in the US, Canada, Australia and the UK which provide strong evidence that school libraries can have a positive impact on student literacy and learning. Here is a summary of what some of those studies say just about the literacy aspect.

Technology? No evidence comes near the above that laptops improve literacy and learning.  It’s time that decision-makers be made to examine the evidence.  As Mark Moran wrote on Forbes.com recently, “Many absolutely clueless administrators still believe that a search engine is an adequate substitute for a trained research teacher.” (Moran, 2010)

The just released PISA results show Australian students are falling behind internationally  in reading.  I think we know why.

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