Letters to the Editor

20 05 2012

Letters to the editor of your local paper are read by many in the community. Oppose school autonomy with letters like these:





Dear NSW Parents and Citizens

25 03 2012

Don’t be gulled by government school autonomy shell games. While principals may want to order their own photocopiers and rid poor performers on their staffs, local empowerment of staffing will break the statewide transfer system which fills positions in remote rural schools, corrode teacher collaboration, force principals to master marketing instead of lead learning, further disadvantage disadvantaged school communities, and lead to increased privatization of public schools with sponsors calling the shots.

What started under Thatcher to break unions and transfer responsibility to school principals, has spread like an epidemic by neo-liberal US, English and Australian governments.

Look at the record of academy schools, charter schools and independent public schools.  There is no evidence that local empowerment improves learning outcomes.  On the contrary, eventual reduced funding and staffing, especially for low SES schools, leaves them to wither and decline.  As Scott Fitzgerald of Curtin University states, so called school autonomy leads to  “recentralisation of control over teachers through curriculum policy frameworks that are held in place by testing regimes, performance pay and league tables.”





Dear candidate/local member

18 03 2012

Could we ask you to please have a closer look at the current LP and ALP policies on devil-ution in school staffing and budgeting?

Among other negative repercussions, in Australia it has resulted in the loss of separately staffed teacher librarians in our nations schools, primary and secondary.

Without adequate funds, principals have been forced to cash in specialist positions to ensure classroom teacher staffing. This has been going on since Kennett led the way in Victoria, where now only 13% of primary schools have teacher librarians. Tasmania followed suit with school autonomy and now only has 29 qualified teacher librarians in 125 K-10 schools (23%).  The Northern Territory has 13 qualified teacher librarians in 151 government schools.  New South Wales and Queensland are now threatened with the disease of “independent” and “locally empowered” public schools.

Australia is now in the embarrassing position of having 46% of our adult population unable to cope with day to day literacy needs, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Core Skills for Business (DEEWR, 2008) has stated “this can create problems in the workplace that prevent a business from reaching its full potential….OECD research has revealed that raising a country’s adult literacy by just 1 per cent leads to a rise in productivity of 2.5 per cent and a 1.5 per cent increase in GDP.”

Teacher librarians improve literacy.  They promote the love of reading. build literacy skills (including spelling, grammar, vocabulary and writing skills!) which are a key to the digital age and raise NAPLAN literacy scores.  Over 60 studies have demonstrated this.  No research has demonstrated that school based management improves student learning outcomes.  It does, however, devolve responsibility and save government spending.

In this National Year of Reading, we ask you to consider instead the long term financial cost of having a nation of non-readers, students disadvantaged by not having the professional knowledge and passion for reading of qualified teacher librarians.

If you wish to have further information on any of these issues, please don’t hesitate in contacting us. We trust you will act in the best interest of our nation’s students and an informed democratic society.

Thank you for your time and consideration,





What is your local member doing for NYR?

12 02 2012

This year is the National Year of Reading 2012.

Time to ask your local state and federal member:

  • How many government schools in your electorate do not have dual-trained teacher librarians in charge of their libraries? Of these, how many are new or refurbished BER libraries?
  • How many government secondary and primary schools in your electorate do not have centralized school libraries?
  • Are you aware of the well-researched link between literacy and well-funded and professionally staffed school libraries
  • Are you aware that there is no research linking principals’ right to hire and fire with increased literacy and learning?
  • In this National Year of Reading, what strategies will you put into place to assure students have the advantage of a qualified teacher librarian in every school, such as increased funding and scholarships for teacher librarian tertiary training and adequate funds to government schools so that they can afford to staff teacher librarians?

I look forward to hearing from you regarding your support for literacy and the advantages of a teacher librarian for students in your electorate.

Make the National Year of Reading count!

See one response in the comments from Greg Combett, and what you might write back.  Don’t let them wiggle out of facing the issues. And you have asked fair questions.  Demand answers, not evasion and buck-passing.

The Shadow Minister of Education in the ACT has responded positively to our plea to “Please ask the government what they are doing to ensure that the funds/staffing points are there to support specialist staff and that the tertiary training programs for teacher librarians are reinstated and scholarship incentives provided so that principals who want qualified teacher librarians will be able to get them.”

See his speech in Parliament at http://on-demand.parliament.act.gov.au/speeches/on_item/4802  four minutes almost at the end.  You will be surprised to at last hear a politician advocating for teacher librarians!!

And through Questions on Notice in the NT, Peter Chandler has been able to get us all the statistics on school library staffing.  Of 151 government schools, only 13 qualified teacher librarians!





1000 more schools to get the blame

21 11 2011

Today education minister Peter Garrett issued a release that the National Partnership Agreements will be extended to 1000 more schools next year.

Please let parents and citizens know they are being hoodwinked. Write to local papers.  Spread the truth of NPAs and local control.

Parents and citizens beware. Global budgeting and staffing in schools is sold to the community as a way for principals and schools to determine their own needs.  In reality, they have become a means by which governments of all persuasions have been able to continually slash education budgets without having to wear the pain. The responsibility, and blame, is handed over to local school principals and parent boards.

Our situation is part of a much larger issue of declining education funding.  Over the past 20 years, education funding in Australia has declined, as funding in other OECD countries has increased.  We are now among the lowest funding countries in the developed world, 28th after Lithuania and Greece.

Under local control of staffing, principals have to hire from reduced budgets and cash in specialist teachers  no longer quarantined in staffing formulas.  The National Partnership Agreements give schools extra funds to experiment with staffing mixes.  What a surprise that they are happier with more staff! But with the reality of state funding cuts, this school based management is the reason we have hemorrhaged specialist teachers such as counsellors and teacher librarians around the country for the past two decades.

Now NSW wants to follow suit. Don’t be hoodwinked by Local Schools, Local Decisions.  There is plentiful evidence to show qualified teacher librarians improve student literacy and learning.  There is no evidence to show that localized staffing, and the dismantling of a state transfer system which ensures teachers in country regions, will improve student learning.

 

Further reading:

NSWTF on 47 NPA trial schools <http://www.nswtf.org.au/journal/education-92-11/index.html>

NSW next in line <https://hubinfo.wordpress.com/2011/10/11/nsw-next-in-line/>





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





Teacher Librarians Ramp Up Campaign

12 10 2011

See the latest Education Review and ring or email your federal MP today.

ACT NOW for Inquiry Report Response.

A teacher in WA has written to Perth members Stephen Smith and Julie Bishop:

To the Honourable Stephen Smith and Honourable Julie Bishop,

I am writing to you to encourage you to consider taking to cabinet the issue of Teacher Librarians in Australian Schools.  I was involved in writing a P&C submission to the House Inquiry into School Libraries and Teacher Librarians in 2010 which was included in the final report to Parliament (Giralang Primary School, ACT).  I have worked as a teacher-librarian for 2.5 of my 7 years of teaching in primary schools, here in WA and previously in the ACT.  I wish to encourage you to follow up on this issue as I, and many other educators, parents and advocates of schools, are disappointed at the lack of commitment to school libraries by individual schools, state Department of Education’s and the Federal Government, both currently and previously.

I 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, it 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.

The eleven report recommendations are not costly nor difficult and aim to advance student literacy and learning through the collection of data including a workforce gap analysis, extending programs for the training of teacher librarians, supporting Australian research similar to that overseas which has demonstrated the link between school library staffing, funding and scheduling with student achievement and literacy, lowering the cost of online databases for schools, and development of a national policy on information and digital literacy.

I would also like a body be set up to formulate up-to-date guidelines for school library staffing and funding as asked for in many of the 387 submissions. The government should also fund the placement of teachers in teacher librarian programs to meet the severe decline in numbers in most of our states and territories.

Lastly I ask you to show your commitment by signing the School Library Service Declaration at http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/school-library-service-declaration.html

It is the responsibility of federal and state and territory governments to maximise educational outcomes for all Australian students through quality school library services with qualified staff.

Thank you for your consideration and support,

Dorothy Hepburn

(Primary School Teacher – Teacher Librarian)

NORTH PERTH, WA

______________________________________________________________________________ Another teacher librarian wrote in SA to his local MP (who was on the original House Inquiry committee). He will now try to follow up with a phone call.                                          

Dear Mr Zappia,

I 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. It is important that the government acts now to respond to the Inquiry into school libraries and teacher librarians in Australian schools before the end of the year.

Personally, I am a qualified teacher librarian (M.Ed Teacher Librarianship) which means that not only can I teach comfortably within a classroom but as a Teacher Librarian I am able to work to ensure the valuable resources provided by state and Federal government funds are properly used within schools to achieve effective educational outcomes for students.

I live in Golden Grove and currently work at Paralowie School R-12 but have worked in many schools as a teacher and teacher librarian,  including Valley View Secondary School in the Makin electorate. Paralowie is a very large Reception to Year 12 school, and through the support of our principal we are lucky to have three qualified teacher libarians (two secondary, including myself, and one primary). The engagement of information, reading, literature and education within our school library (which we call a Resource Centre) that occurs across all year levels through the employment of qualified teacher librarians could not be replicated by a non-qualifed School Service Officer.

Unfortunately, our example at Paralowie is not the trend across Australia. Recently, I have heard that the teacher librarian at X will be retiring and at this stage will not be replaced next year. This is a very sad state of affairs, as the X Library was once one of the most well resourced and suitably staffed school libraries in South Australia. Similar misinformed actions have been occuring in the schools across Australia, where due to the lack of funds and support for school libraries, schools are ignorantly believing that Google will teach our students the information skills that they require in the 21st Century.

This is not about simply protecting our jobs as teacher librarians. Like many teacher librarians, I am more than qualified to teach in a classroom and have done so for over ten years. I have taught a wide range of students, subject areas and many diffferent and difficult schools across Adelaide and South Australia. My role of teacher librarian gives me the opportunity to connect valuable information and educational resources to students. As teacher librarian, I provide teachers with the best and most up-to-date resources and help teach valuable 21st Century research skills to students. Most recently this has occured with my support of the new SACE subject called Research Project. This is something that someone without the dual qualifications of teacher and librarian would not be able to do.

The eleven report recommendations are not costly nor difficult and aim to advance student literacy and learning through the collection of data including a workforce gap analysis, extending programs for the training of teacher librarians, supporting Australian research similar to that overseas which has demonstrated the link between school library staffing, funding and scheduling with student achievement and literacy, lowering the cost of online databases for schools, and development of a national policy on information and digital literacy.

I would also like a body be set up to formulate up-to-date guidelines for school library staffing and funding as asked for in many of the 387 submissions. The government should also fund the placement of teachers in teacher librarian programs to meet the severe decline in numbers in most of our states and territories. 

Lastly I ask you to show your commitment by signing the School Library Service Declaration at http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/school-library-service-declaration.html

It is the responsibility of federal and state and territory governments to maximise educational outcomes for all Australian students through quality school library services with qualified staff.

Thank you for your consideration and support,

Adam Fitzgerald MEd. (Teacher Libarianship), Grad. Dip. Ed. BA.

SA





Peter Garrett, your time is up NOW

6 09 2011

It has now been over three months since the report on the federal Inquiry into school libraries and teacher librarians has been tabled in parliament. (Listen to MP Karen Andrews from the education committee speak to the report on YouTube.) It is time to urge the government to respond.

Use, or adapt, this letter to call on your local federal member to let federal Education Minister, Peter Garrett, know it’s time.

Then use this second letter to call on your local state/territory member to declare their support for school libraries.

Both letters ask for them to sign up to a School Library Service Declaration.  Please return any signed declarations to hellohub@gmail.com  for posting.

It’s time for the federal and state governments to commit to quality school library services.





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.





Write to Peter Garrett now

18 11 2010

Amanda Rishworth, in her capacity of the new Chair of Standing Committee on Education and Employment has advised that, “Unfortunately the inquiry into School Libraries and Teacher Librarians conducted by the education and Training committee lapsed as a result of the prorogation of the 42nd Parliament.

The Education and Employment committee of the 43rd Parliament requires a referral from the Minister of the terms of reference for it to inquire and report on this matter.

I believe consideration is being given to re-open the enquiry but as I said they have to get a referral from the Minister first.”

Write to the Minister of School Education, Peter Garrett, MP, NOW.

Here is my letter submitted via the contact form at http://www.aph.gov.au/house/members/memfeedback.asp?id=HV4 Feel free to use any of the wording below.

To the Minister of School Education, Peter Garrett, MP:

As you are no doubt aware, the previous federal education committee has this year conducted an extensive Inquiry into School Libraries and Teacher Librarians which received 382 submissions from tertiary training institutions, departments of education, parents groups, unions, school library associations, library associations, principals’ associations, teachers’ associations, overseas experts, management systems providers, publishers, authors, the Children’s Book Council, university librarians, and individual parents, teachers and teacher librarians.

Hearings were held in every territory and state capital.  The time and effort which the previous committee put into this inquiry was extraordinary, coming at a crucial time to address the decline of our profession.

The inquiry was initiated by Julia Gillard when she was Education Minister.  She and her government need to see the results and recommendations of the committee now more than ever. Australian students do not receive equitable school library services, funding or staffing, across the states and territories.  Recent surveys have shown that staffing of school libraries with qualified teacher librarians varies from 100% in NSW to 13% of Victorian primary schools to 5% of schools in the NT. Too many of the 3200 new or refurbished BER libraries will not have qualified teacher librarians.

Yet, the Federal Inquiry took evidence of over 60 studies internationally confirming that dual qualified teacher librarians make a difference to student literacy and learning. Reading scores rise. Students read more.  Their writing and spelling and vocabulary improve. Academic results improve regardless of socio-economic considerations. They learn the skills of information literacy for digital and other resources.

This inquiry was partly in response to 1600 petitioners who signed a petition requesting the federal government to take a role, as it has in the past, 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.”

This petition has now been signed by over 2720 petitioners and can be viewed at

http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/a-qualified-teacher-librarian-in-every-school.html

We teachers, parents, librarians, authors and school library supporters look forward to hearing that you have requested the inquiry to be reopened and for the Report to be completed and tabled as soon as possible.

All Australian students deserve 21st century schools staffed by 21st century professionally qualified teacher librarians.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Name

Address