Should we be in despair about the status quo of TLs?

13 08 2015

The day after the tabling in Parliament of the Report of the Inquiry into School Libraries and Teacher Librarians in May 2011, these MPs gave insightful, informative and supportive speeches to open the eyes of educators and parents and urge action.  If you didn’t have time then, take time now and be renewed and inspired. Note six are still in office.

The speech of Sharon Bird, MP (Labor NSW), initial committee chair (2015 still in office)

The speech of Karen Andrews, MP (Liberal Qld), committee member and currently (2015) Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry and Science

The speech of Yvette D’Ath, MP (Labor Qld), committee member

The speech of Deborah O’Neill, MP (Labor NSW), committee member (2015 still in office)

The speech of Mike Symon, MP (Labor Vic), committee member

The speech of Alan Tudge, MP (Liberal Vic), committee member and currently (2015) Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister

In addition, two members of the committee gave speeches upon tabling the report the day before:

The speech of Amanda Rishworth, MP (Labor SA), subsequent committee chair (2015 still in office)

The speech of Rowan Ramsey, MP (Liberal SA) committee member (2015 still in office)

We DO have parliamentarians who understand.





National Year of Reading demands action on school libraries

1 02 2012

DOWNLOAD IMAGINE POSTER HERE.

46% of Australian adults have everyday literacy problems and industry, government and advisory bodies say it is holding us back economically.

2011 NAPLAN results have shown a growing gap between the top and bottom students in literacy results. In the most recent PISA survey, Australia was one of only five countries that recorded a drop in reading and maths. (See SMH article 24 Jan. 2012).

Softlink studies have shown for two years in a row the correlation between school library staffing and funding and NAPLAN results.

In this National Year of Reading, what will the state and federal governments do to improve school library staffing and funding and therefore literacy?

Peter Garrett tried to sing us the same old song in his response to the 2011 House Report of the Inquiry into School Libraries and Teacher Librarians that it isn’t a federal government responsibility.  This is almost laughable if it weren’t so hackneyed and a blatant lie.

Here are just some of the things the federal government can do as it has in the past and is doing now to influence education policy and programs in Australia.

  • Ensure the Productivity Commission Schools Workforce survey include collection of much needed data on school library staffing, funding and scheduling.
  • Provide scholarships, as it does in other specialist teaching areas, to support increased numbers of graduate teacher librarians to fill the nearly 3000 vacancies, especially in the new BER libraries.
  • Support the re-introduction of lost university teacher librarian training programs.
  • Implement the Productivity Commission’s recommendation for a clearinghouse for school leaders which will include vital decision-making information on the value of quality school library services in student learning and literacy.
  • Establish a national advisory body on school libraries and national guidelines and standards.
  • Ensure NPAs for quality teaching do not result in loss of the specialist teachers which support quality teaching.
  • Support longitudinal research into the relationship between teacher librarian training and staffing and student literacy and learning outcomes.
  • Promote inclusion in pre-service teacher education of a unit of study on collaborative teaching of information literacy and literacy with teacher librarian mentor for improved quality teaching.
The books are burning, Peter Garrett.  Time to sing a new song.




Our response to the government

24 11 2011

The government’s response to the Report of the House Inquiry into School Libraries and Teacher Librarians is disappointing but not unexpected,  continuing to shift responsibility to states, while the states continue to shift to principals. The same old mantra is given of “it is a state and territory responsibility”  while crucial education funding continues to decline.

 

Some half-hearted considerations will be made by the government to the Report recommendations, while no decisive action will be taken to arrest the hemorrhaging of teacher librarians in our government schools.  Lack of state and federal leadership now means that some regional directors and state library services managers fill the gap with ignorant advice to eliminate the expense of school libraries and books altogether.  The laptop panacea must be seen as a godsend.

 

Recommendation 1 on consideration of making much needed online databases affordable to all schools is fine and costs little.

 

Recommendation 2  ignores the role of teacher librarians in teaching the thinking skills of Information Literacy while addressing technology tool use of ICT competence.

 

The hope is that Recommendation 3 for data collection will go beyond principal- and self-identification of TLs in schools to specific criteria identifying qualifications of staff placed in charge in a school library (and not a classroom as occurs too often in Queensland and Tasmania.)

 

Recommendation 4, National Year of Reading, is occurring already, but with no visible connection to the role of teacher librarians and school libraries in literacy development.

 

Commitment to school-library research (Recommendation 5) depends on available funds, hardly a commitment.  Meanwhile, it is left up to TLs to demonstrate effective programs through the Teach Learn Share “evidence”-collection site.

 

Interestingly, recommendations 6 and 11, working with ALIA and ASLA to promote the leadership role of TLs and partnership programs with other libraries, are not supported, so as not to show bias towards any professional association.  In a second breath, however, projects with other associations are described.

 

Recommendation 7. No special role is recognized for TLs with the National Curriculum. The emphasis, instead, appears to be online delivery of student and professional learning.

 

A priority recommendation (8) for the TL profession on workforce data MAY reveal shortfalls and inadequacies (see reservations expressed with Recommendation 3), if criteria are made specific enough, and “if there is additional funding available.”

 

Two other priority recommendations (9 and 10,) to look at TL training needs and enhance state and territory partnered support for school libraries and teacher librarians, is a matter to be raised with MCEECDYA. It is vital that these two issues are raised and given due consideration with solutions implemented.

 

The need for national standards and guidelines are ignored.  The need for scholarships right now to support TL training is not addressed. The research-proven role of qualified teacher librarians in literacy and learning is yet to be acknowledged in any tangible policy or program.

 

We still have a long way to go.

 

 





Government responds to recommendations

24 11 2011

The federal government’s response to the recommendations of the Report on the Inquiry into School Libraries and Teacher Librarians is now available.  Download it here.





10 11 2011

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.

Thank you,

Georgia Phillips

for

The Hub: Campaign for Quality School Libraries in Australia





Resending Petition Update Today

9 11 2011

Thank you to all who have supported our petition for Quality School Libraries in Australia.  The original was sent two years ago on 16 November 2009 with 1600 signatures.  An update will now be sent to Julia through Peter Garrett, who needs to be informed of the fact that the federal government DOES have a role to play in education nationally (hmm, thought Julia might have shown him a few of the current federal initiatives….and our Inquiry Report.)

So call out all teacher librarian and school library supporters today who have not yet signed to sign our petition now.  But please don’t sign again as I am having to spend the day eliminating all the duplicate signatures name by name.  We need to have a valid petition, even though I know you REALLY care!

There IS a role for the federal government to play in supporting TL training, developing national guidelines, collecting workforce data, tying resource funding, preserving TL staffing under National Partnership Agreements and requiring 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.

We are frankly appalled that Peter Garrett is giving us the same message which federal parliamentarians fobbed us off with four years ago. Peter Garrett, time to come back from apparently being Lost in Space and Time!

 





It’s Back to the Future with Peter Garrett

3 11 2011

Your letters are being answered, but Garrett’s office seems to have gone through some time warp!  Replying to your requests for a government response to the teacher librarian Inquiry Report, our federal education minister Peter Garrett is repeating the cop out from four years ago: “responsibility for the day-to-day management of schools, including allocation of staff such as teacher librarians, rests with state and territory education authorities.” (See full reply here.)

It appears that our minister has not read the Inquiry Report.

It appears that our minister does not know that the federal government is taking a HUGE interest in controlling what happens in our schools.

It appears that our minister does not know that the federal government funds the training of specialist teachers such as pre-school teachers.

It appears that our minister does not know that the federal government directly influences territory schools.  It has demanded, mandated, English-only in schools and tied funds to fulfilment of that requirement in the Northern Territory.

It appears that our minister does not know that the federal government funds universities with teacher and teacher librarian training courses.

It appears that our minister does not know that the federal government can intervene in other state areas of responsibility, such as health care.

Maybe he needs to be told. Has he looked at the recommendations? They certainly don’t recommend telling the states how to staff their schools.  Instead they ask for the workforce data to be collected, for a national digital and information policy to be developed, for funding for a core set of online databases, for additional MySchool library data provision, for longitudinal studies, for ideas to enhance partnerships and the establishment of a national dialogue on training needs.

Where does it say that the federal government will direct states and territories in their staffing?!!

Of course, the Inquiry recommendations should have also included a national policy on school library services, including staffing recommendations, and the immediate need for funding of tertiary training places.

Even then, we know the federal government doesn’t want to tell the states what to do.  Ha!  That’s not what the National Curriculum and AITSL and NPAs and MySchool and NAPLAN are all about, or is it?

I think Peter Garrett needs to be told, don’t you?

Email Peter.Garrett.MP@aph.gov.au  or use his feedback form.