South Australian school libraries hit by tight budgets

1 08 2012

Indaily ‏@indaily
Under threat: Tight school budgets force librarians into classrooms http://bit.ly/P4MEJC What are your thoughts #adelaide? @aeusa





Autonomy threatens TL positions in NSW: Channel 10 News

21 05 2012

TLs get a mention in tonight’s Channel 10 News at five, but don’t blink:-)  Click on Principal Changes.

Thanks to John Hill, the journo, who understands there is an important story here.





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:





NSW TLs visit local members to discuss “Local Schools, Local Decisions”

20 04 2012

NSW teacher librarians are taking a proactive role to let their local members know the implications of school autonomy for the staffing of qualified teacher librarians in government schools.  MPs, it seems, have not been aware of this and, so far, have welcomed further information, both on the research which shows that school based management does not improve educational outcomes and on the national staffing statistics we have.

We urge all NSW TLs to do likewise.  Here is the background paper we are presenting to MPs for their information.  We are also giving them, when possible, a hard copy of the Inquiry Report, and a request for them to:

  • Oppose “Local Schools, Local Decisions”
  • Stand up for continued core staffing of teacher librarians
  • Stand up for dedicated funding to school libraries, especially in areas of social and economic disadvantage.




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,





School Based Management, the political disease killing public education

26 02 2012

Where did the notion of a “Self-Managed School (SMS)” or School Based Management or Locally Empowered Schools begin? Professor John Smyth, Flinders University, gives us a lead.

In a 1999 interview by Nick Davies of The Guardian with Lord Baker, the Secretary of State for Education responsible for bringing in the SMS under Margaret Thatcher in England in the 1980s, the true intent behind the SMS was startlingly revealed. According to Davies, Baker laughingly admitted in the interview that the SMS policy (and its close relatives, standardised assessment, league tables, national curriculum, parental choice, and the Office for Standards in Education [Ofsted]), were all developed for entirely political reasons: the ‘real agenda was to punish the teacher unions and to kill off the local educational authorities; secretly the big master plan was to wipe out comprehensive schools by stealth’ (pp. 113-4).

From John Smyth, “The disaster of the ‘self-managing school’ genesis, trajectory, undisclosed agenda, and effects” in Journal of Educational Administration and History 43:2, Apr. 2011, pp. 95-117. quoting Nick Davies, “Political Coup Bred Educational Disaster,” The Guardian, September 16, 1999, P. 1.

And where does it end? With the withering away of the low socio-economic status (SES) schools, as middle class parents with the skills to lobby for better schooling move their children to higher SES, selective and private schools. It ends in increasing division between social, racial and religious groups, principals spending valuable time on PR and image making, reduced staffing, and decision-making based on economics instead of pedagogy.

Has SBM improved student achievement? There has been no research to demonstrate this. “What is staggering,” says Smyth, ” is the absence of any evidence showing that dismantling public schools, in the manner that has occurred in the countries mentioned, actually produces any better learning for students” (p.109).

Real improvements are made through changes in the classroom, through the relationships between students and teachers, and through offering the best teaching and learning to every student.

As Smyth states, “Measures that have made schools self-managing through creating educational markets and that have been necessary to sustain that ideology (choice, school selection, baseline assessment, Ofsted inspections in England, league tables, naming and shaming, national assessment, and others) are starting to become unravelled through the social polarisation produced as a consequence of some schools attracting bright students and funding, and the rest being left behind in struggling circumstances” (p.115).

If we believe in public education and in social equity and a democratic society, it is time to question what we are doing in our schools and implement the best educational and classroom practices, not the best in marketing. Consider the outstanding Finnish model, where every school offers the best to every child and teachers must be of the top quality, resulting in top marks in literacy and learning. Time to stop this political epidemic and use what we already know about the best in teaching to give our students the best in learning.





No Books? No Libraries?

17 12 2011

In 2007, COBURG SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL, VIC. was a new school with dispersed book collections, virtually no non-fiction and lots of computers. (See article in Access, Nov 2007 by  Jennifer Sargeant, Director of Information Resources).  The principal had said there would eventually be a library “of sorts.”  Is there now?

Also in 2007, MORDIALLIC SECONDARY SCHOOL, MELBOURNE, closed its library entirely, disposing of its existing collection “so that the space could be used for a VCE centre, with the remaining books split amongst each year level. No catalogue, no borrowing system.” Each year since, they had to buy duplicate copies of books for access.  No TL then. What’s happening now?

BULLEEN HEIGHTS SCHOOL, an autistic school in Doncaster, Victoria, didn’t have a library.  Children were using the public library. Are they still?

In 2008, the sole TL at a school of 1000 students was told that all of the non-fiction would be removed from the MACKAY HIGH SCHOOL, QLD  library. The rationale was that students in the era of the Internet do not need books to research information. Some walls in the library were knocked down to form one large area to house a mass of computers.

In 2011 the library, however, is still functioning and a thriving hub, though the non-fiction collection is much smaller.  A staff survey which opposed the removal of non-fiction may have stopped the change.

I am told that MACKAY NORTH HIGH SCHOOL, QLD was to divest itself of non-fiction [see update in comments, this has not happened.] as has CALEN SECONDARY COLLEGE, (P-12) QLD. What do students and staff and parents think?

In 2008, LUMEN CHRISTI COLLEGE, GOSNELLS, WA a consultant reviewing the library suggested the idea of getting rid of non-fiction and replacing the books with computers, because “students in the era of the Internet do not need books to research information.”  Awaiting update. (I would love to know if this “consultant,” who doesn’t know the recreational benefits of non-fiction, is still employed.)

HENLEY HIGH SCHOOL, SA 2010

The Principal of Henley High in November 2010, announced through the Messenger Press  that her school was going ‘Hi tech’, because “few books were borrowed from the library.” Within three years, she expected there to be no need for the use of that space as such. The photograph in the Messenger Press showed empty shelves behind the girl with her laptop near the fiction section that had been retained.  Many books have gone to other libraries which appreciated them. There is now no TL or library assistant. The library is now called a Senior Study Centre.

The worst aspect of it all was the reaction of DECS and the fact that the unnamed spokeswoman for the Department of Education when asked about the loss of the library simply said that schools were moving to computers. She seemed to be unaware that the Federal government has just spent billions putting libraries in schools, public and private, throughout Australia!

Departments of education in NSW and other states are using the coming into play of the Local Empowerment Policy to wash their hands of responsibilities for decisions by principals in schools. It saves so much $$!

Theoretically, school councils might be used as governing councils, but they can be told whatever the principal wishes and their advice can be ignored.

The Local Empowerment Policy, already being abused in WA through the Independent Public Schools program being set up by the Liberal government there, will allow Principals to have free rein but what about funding? There do not appear to be any guarantees built in for principals to include as essential members of staff either school counsellors – that’s why the push to chaplains – or teacher librarians. And in SA the newly negotiated agreement with the AEU has now excluded teacher librarians and school counsellors from the essential members of staff.

So now under a state government “Expanding State High Schools” program, MARRYATVILLE HS, SA Resource Centre looks to be replaced by a General Learning area where a reading room is now, a science building with an “Area supporting Resource Based Learning”, an admin office….in short dismantled and dispersed as at Henley HS.

VARSITY COLLEGE SENIOR CAMPUS LIBRARY, Qld Nov 2011

The school has made the decision to remove all the non-fiction books from the catalogue, cull many and move the rest to the backs of middle school classrooms [sound familiar?]. Senior classes will be expected to rely solely on the internet or the online databases. Some fiction books will be kept in the library space which is being converted into a “digital break-out” space.

It’s all done with smoke and mirrors folks, and under the directorship of a regional director who has publicly stated that we don’t need libraries in schools any more. Many state schools on the Gold Coast now do not have a T/L (NB: Robina, Miami, Palm Beach, Currumbin, Nerang, Southport and others… and others with a teacher in charge who is taken off some classes and spends that time in the library [remember the “good old days”?]. As one deputy has stated, their teacher in charge “sets up displays and orders books”.

MT TAMBOURINE HIGH SCHOOL, Qld. was advertising for a TL for a library with NO books  Awaiting update.

AQUINUS COLLEGE, Melbourne is reputedly going paperless next year. What do these schools know about the availability and licensing of Australia history, art, industrial arts, health, sexuality, poetry, culture, etc. books in e-format that we don’t know?

AND CLOSING DOWN A LIBRARY?

CAMBRIDGE HS, NZ, LIBRARY WAS CLOSED, NOW REOPENED 2011

Philippa Stevenson: Library’s return puts heart back into high school

The school library that was closed to be replaced by a cyber cafe was at Cambridge in the North Island of NZ.  The principal thought it was a ‘museum”.  She was eventually replaced when the decision was reversed because of the publicity and the Department of Education and government got involved.

Some US primary libraries are re-opening (though with no TLs, only volunteer parents many of whom are raising the  funds themselves to re-open their libraries: one school district in California, one in Philidelphia, a school in Michigan.  Clerks are being rehired in 2 Napa Valley schools to re-open their libraries. Belmont CA has rehired 3-4 TLs to reopen six primary school libraries 

And in Windsor Canada Catholic Schools are bringing back libraries and books!!   The Windsor Public Library and the region’s Catholic School system are working on a partnership to save the school board’s libraries from extinction. Last spring, the board made a controversial move to remove most of the books from its school libraries…..

Is there a message here?!

And the latest good news? The US Congress is set to approve $28.6 billion for school libraries.  Thanks to the heroic work of school library champion, Senator Jack Reed.  (Or should it be READ!:-)  Now where is our OZ champion?





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/>





NSW next in line?

11 10 2011

Currently, a campaign is being run by the School Library Association of NSW and the Illawarra School Libraries Association to lobby local members about the deleterious effects of LSLD on teacher librarian staffing.

Three politicians have been visited, with Noreen Hay, Wollongong MP, the latest (16 May 2012).

While Keira MP, Ryan Park, asked questions on notice on our behalf, and Pru Goward made a submission on our behalf, Noreen Hay, Wollongong MP, will present Notice of Motions to provoke debate in the NSW Parliament  on the effect of Local Schools, Local Decisions on public school libraries and teacher librarians.

The NSW Liberal government has announced its policy of school autonomy, Local Schools, Local Decisions, with devolution of staffing, budgeting and support services.  While BER difficulties showed that schools probably need some leeway in using local contractors and guiding their own building projects, local staffing without protection of specialist positions, decentralization of support services and global budgeting have not been shown to improve student outcomes.

Budgeting

The elimination of earmarked state funds for the library has had drastic results. According to the 2008 Australian School Libraries Research Project, almost ten percent of NSW schools had budgets under $1000, with almost half of those under $500. This is for all school sectors, so can only be a guide for government schools. This decline directly relates to literacy NAPLAN results according to surveys conducted by Softlink.

Staffing

As for local control of staffing, we already know what has been the result for other states and territories.

  • In Tasmania, as a direct result of “self-management” brought in in 1991, secondary school teacher librarians lost their separate staffing entitlement (primary school teachers suffered this fate some years earlier). 67% of schools in Tasmania now do not have qualified teacher librarians.
  • In Queensland,  support for school based management (SBM) continues to affect school staffing. 10-15% of  Queensland government schools do not have qualified teacher librarians. Now seven state high schools on the Gold Coast have no teacher librarians.
  • In Victoria, Schools of the Future (1993), Kennett’s version of SBM, has seen the loss of at least 35% of qualified teacher librarians,  87% in primary schools. Ever shrinking state budgets have meant that principals have had to cut here, cut there over the years.  Gradually, all non-face-to-face teaching positions have disappeared – careers teachers, teacher librarians, student welfare co-ordinators and so on.
  • In the ACT,  School Based Management began circa 1997. 50% of government primary schools in the ACT do not have qualified teacher librarians.
  • 90% of WA government primary schools have no teacher librarians. Under the current government’s Independent Government Schools scheme now secondary TLs are being lost. At the Perth Inquiry hearing, WA DET stated that 77 out of some 800 schools have qualified TLs.
  • Under their new teaching award which no longer guarantees separate staffing of specialist teachers, South Australia is now losing its qualified teacher librarians, even in high schools.

All this with no convincing evidence to justify school based management on the basis of improved educational outcomes (Lindgard, 2002). Indeed, there is plentiful research to show that well-staffed school libraries correlate to improved student literacy and academic achievement.

Support services 

Until devolution, all states and territories had central resource and library support services.  Six are gone. WA’s is in decline. Recently, NSW School Library and Information Literacy unit was threatened by restructuring, but, thankfully, still exists. Such services advise on policy, review print and digital learning materials, support professional learning, provide bibliographic, central cataloguing and publication services. In NSW, these include the excellent journal SCAN, the Handbook for School Libraries, OASIS Library support materials, copyright information, and  teaching support materials embedding ICT use, IWBs, information literacy, ethical use, cyberbullying, plagiarism and social networking to demonstrate good pedagogy.  These are not services which can come from the regional or school level.

Global budgeting 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 school made that decision” is the constant refrain when a well loved program is axed.  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.

Local control of local schools is fine for local projects.  But without adequate funding and without transparency in decision-making and accountability, it will only send us further down the educational and economic ladder.