Dear Minister Garrett,
Thank you for the reply through Margaret Banks to our recent correspondence.
However, I am afraid either you or Ms Banks have not kept up with recent initiatives of the federal government in supporting educational change in Australian schools.
How is it possible to repeat the same responsibility-passing nonsense from four years ago that “While the Government plays a leadership role and supports Australian schools, responsibility for the day-to-day management of schools, including allocation of staff such as teacher librarians, rests with state and territory education authorities.”
The Inquiry of 2010 into School Libraries and Teacher LIbrarians, as you must be aware, held 13 hearings, reviewed 387 submissions, and made 11 recommendations for the role the federal government could take in improving the quality of school libraries in Australian schools. This goes far beyond mere “day-to-day management.”
To address the lack of trained teacher librarians, the federal government can offer scholarships for teacher librarian training.
It can collect workforce data, develop national guidelines, tie resource funding of new BER libraries to qualified staffing, preserve teacher librarian staffing under National Partnership Agreements and require that literacy programs and other national curricula explicitly recognize the central role school libraries have in student achievement, literacy attainment, and preparation for post-secondary success.
Many of these initiatives are recommended in the Report. Most were asked for in the original petition from 1600 citizens to then Education Minister, Julia Gillard, in November 2009, a prelude to the Inquiry. Since then, a further 1400 citizens have respectfully signed the petition.
You are asked to view this petition and its signatories at <http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/a-qualified-teacher-librarian-in-every-school.html> Click on signatures and read the views of voters.
As our petition states:
We, the undersigned, call on the federal government to ensure that all Australian primary and secondary students have access to a school library and a qualified teacher librarian.
As it has done in the past, the federal government is in a position to influence state school library funding and staffing. To do this, they can: collect national data on school library staffing, funding, and scheduling; tie funding so that states can and must adequately staff and fund school library programs and services; require that literacy programs and other national curricula should explicitly recognize the central role school libraries have in student achievement, literacy attainment, and preparation for post-secondary success; develop national school library standards; increase teacher librarian training positions in university programs.
All Australian students deserve 21st century schools staffed by 21st century professionally qualified teacher librarians.
We ask for a considered reply this time to our request for the federal government to respond to the Report of the Inquiry into School Libraries and Teacher Librarians.
The Hub: Campaign for Quality School Libraries in Australia