Empowering Local Schools to dismiss teacher librarians

7 03 2011

Someone should tell the state premiers.  It’s been good spin for you for the past few years, but meanwhile who will be running your reading challenges when all the teacher librarians have turned out the lights? When all the books are left to parents to purchase for their child’s iPad or laptop?

Books of the Year? Sorry, can only afford to download Wind and the Willows and Alice in Wonderland and Macbeth.  Share those with bub on the knee.

What is it with Inquiries?  Do they give the imprematur to speed up the very practices being investigated for their negative effects?  Wrong word, of course. Imprematur is license to print.  We are talking here about the license to burn, discard, disregard the print.  Unless its out of copyright free print or disjointed, unverifiable, unedited, non-narrative print. Because you sure won’t find narrative non-fiction or a free Book of the Year on your laptop, Sally and Johnnie and Mohammed.

Mad?  Yes I’m mad! When I hear that the South Australian government has negotiated away any safeguard for teacher librarian positions, and school support officers are trying to cope with supporting teacher curriculum needs and students who need to be taught how to find reliable information.

Mad when I hear that Western Australia’s government is going full-steam ahead with its “Independent Public Schools” program. Teacher librarians of 20 years are suddenly supernumaries and feeling betrayed.  Library Officers get Level 2 pay to do a professional teacher’s job.  Teachers and students get short changed.

Do the real independent schools do this?  Hardly! New $8 million Resource Centre Learning Hub Libraries with four full-time professional staff speak loud and clear to prospective parents. (“Libraries turn a fresh page,” Sun Herald, 27 Feb 2011) They are saying, “We know quality libraries support quality teaching and learning.”

So what is Julia’s Empowering Local Schools policy really about?  Without the funds of independent schools, it can only be about shifting the responsibility and the blame. Even Julia knows that NAPLAN literacy results have been correlated with well-staffed and well-stocked school libraries.

So premiers, be sure you have a license for your bookmobiles. The challenge will be that the next generation can read at all.

Write a letter to your local federal member and to the House Education and Employment Inquiry committee now.




5 responses

30 03 2011
DC Green

I am a children’s author. In the last five years I have toured hundreds of schools around Australia. The world of teacher librarians is incalculably valuable on numerous levels, but in simple terms, this demented experiment can be thus summarised: without librarians selecting, encouraging and tailoring, students will read far less books (many will never read) and we will become a nation of morons.

6 04 2011

We can only agree, DC! We need folks like you speaking out to the media please.

28 05 2011
Erica Jolly

I have not yet found a comment that considers the situation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, students and parents. I noted the expenditure on library/resource centres in Independent and Catholic schools who are so much more aware of what needs to be invested for the future than those funding public schools, but in the figures of expenditure on libraries for public schools there was no mention of library/resource centres in the schools being developed that have a significant number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in whatever State and Territory they might be. Is there no such information available? Is it considered unimportant? What of the books being written and illustrated by Indigenous authors for children? Is their place in libraries being taken into account?

29 05 2011

It’s pretty indicative, Erica, that 95% of NT schools, most of them remote and in indigenous communities, have no teacher librarians, and budgets of less than $500! I’ve sent several letters to Therese Rein and her Indigenous Literacy project about this, but no response. How much further their books could go if circulated from school libraries with qualified TLs!

29 05 2011

Also there is an account in the Report of Queensland’s Indigenous Knowledge Centres, funded and suppported by the State Library.

“There are 20 IKCs in Queensland, predominantly in the Cape York
Peninsula and Torres Strait regions. The centres function as a library for
school students and a hub for the collection and sharing of Indigenous
history. (See pages 100-101 in the Report)

The Qld DET stated in the Report “The enhancement of libraries and a greater involvement of the community in the development of the teacher-librarian role would be seen as a future partnership arrangement which could encourage a greater involvement of students in their own literacy and ICT development.”

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