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:

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TL Inquiry Report examined in Education Review

23 06 2011

Two articles this week in Education Review are available for you to circulate with permission far and wide.

They are:

Darragh O’Keefe’s report on reactions to the Inquiry Report, TL report a good start, says sector  and

Protecting an endangered species, where Georgia Phillips critiques the Inquiry Report.

Also this week’s Australian Teacher Magazine:

  • ASLA President Darlene Hill’s excellent article, “It’s clear – Australian teacher librarians are worth their weight in gold.”
  • an excellent Editorial “Wanted : Teacher Librarians”
  •  The Jewellery Box Mystery (Online research task set by a Queensland TL)
  • and a report on Simultaneous “Storytime Success” with a photo of Penrith PS library and teacher librarian, Ian McLean.




Everyday advocacy

16 02 2011

Carolyn Foote, an Austin, TX teacher librarian who will be part of the upcoming Your School Library advocacy online conference, recommends creative use of web tools in fighting cuts to staffing and funding to inform your community and politicians of your value.  They include student made websites to “Save Our Library”, online petitions, wikis and blogs to Rescue Our Librarians. “It’s time to use the tools at our disposal to demand equity for students in our own districts and across the country. And we have to be willing to take matters into our own hands,” says Foote.

“When communities accept library closings as ‘the new normal,’ then all libraries are in trouble,” says Lori Reed, learning and development coordinator at the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library in North Carolina.” Reed started the site Save Our Libraries where anyone can share their story of library funding and staffing cuts and the strategies used to stop them.

What can you and your students do to save your library, now and for the future?

See Foote’s School Library Journal article, “Everyday Advocacy,” for the full story.





Media Release: Inquiry reopened

25 11 2010

Members of The Hub and the wider education and library communities are ecstatic that the Minister for School Education, Peter Garrett, has asked the Inquiry into School Libraries and Teacher Librarians to be reopened.  The new House Standing Committee on Education and Employment will pursue publication of its report next year.  After 12 hearings in state and territory capitals and 382 submissions, the previous committee had asked many hard questions about the decline of qualified teacher librarians in public schools. And they had been looking for answers.

Devolution of staffing along with insufficient budgets have caused principals in Victoria, Tasmania, ACT and South Australia government schools to opt for less expensive staffing options.  Western Australia has never mandated primary teacher librarians. Queensland teacher librarians are increasingly being placed in classrooms, while the Northern Territory has teacher librarians in only 5% of its schools.  Only NSW staffs all of its schools with trained teacher librarians.

Yet direct links have been found between school library staffing and funding and student academic achievement in over 60 international studies. In its inquiry submission, Softlink included its own survey results linking  qualified teacher librarian staffing and funding with NAPLAN results. A strong correlation exists.

The federal government is well placed to provide national school library standards, as it has in the past.  It can link resource funding of new BER libraries with the provision of qualified teacher librarians.  It can collect data on school library funding and staffing and publish this on the My School site. It can fund research and leadership programs on the contributions of teacher librarians to educational outcomes. It can support the re-introduction of tertiary TL training programs and sponsor tuition. These are just some of the recommendations which we hope to see in the Committee’s final report.

Our public school children should not lose out. The Hub has also made a submission to the federal review of school funding which shows the discrepancies between government and non-government school library funding.

Parents can learn more about the value of teacher librarians and school libraries at our My School Library site.

Georgia Phillips

for The Hub





Teacher librarians are…vital…, especially in schools where home literacy practices don’t…support school literacy practices.

1 11 2010

Bendigo Advertiser 1 November 2010  excerpt from  “Storytime in Eaglehawk” by Lauren Mitchell:

Fellow lecturer and Bendigo Regional director of the Children’s Book Council of Australia Sarah Mayor Cox says if parents read one story per day to their child, by the time the child starts Prep, they will have heard more than 1800 stories.

“You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to see how much more familiar those children will be with a really important and fun part of the school day,” she says.

“They will be able to sit and listen for longer, and will be able to discuss more confidently the story they have just heard.

“Who wouldn’t want to give their children a head start like that?”

Sarah says local schools are working very hard to make sure they are offering the best literature programs possible, however governments needed to do more.

“I think the biggest contribution the community can make is to urge politicians to put education at the centre of all their policies and to fund education better,” she says.

“The federal government is currently conducting an inquiry into the state of libraries in schools.

“Twenty years ago, most schools had a qualified teacher librarian. Their role was to connect students with books and resources, needed for pleasure reading and for educational purposes.

“This isn’t the case anymore, and I don’t think many of the community realise this.

“Teacher librarians are of vital need, especially in schools where home literacy practices don’t value or support school literacy practices.





BER libraries not value for money without qualified TEACHER librarians

19 10 2010

Media Release from The Hub

20 October 2010 (Please forward to your local, regional newspapers, if you are in Victoria)

246 new government school primary libraries are being built with BER funding in Victoria. Most cost $2,000,000 or more. This infrastructure is long overdue, but without qualified staff, these schools will not be getting value for money, according to Georgia Phillips, co-founder of The Hub: Campaign for Quality School Libraries in Australia.

Says Mrs. Phillips, “Recent research has shown that only 13% of Victorian primary schools are staffed with qualified teacher librarians. This is a decline from 55% in 1983. Many schools employ library technicians and librarians (not certified as teachers) to run school libraries. 12% of these are managed by someone with no formal qualifications of any kind, including volunteer parents.”

“In NSW we haven’t seen volunteers running school libraries since before the 1970 Commonwealth grants,” says Phillips. “In NSW all schools are officially staffed with teachers who are also trained as librarians.”

“Since the early 1990s there has been no government requirement in Victoria regarding school library staffing. With declining budgets, schools are often forced to go for cheaper options, even when they know that teacher librarians make a difference to student learning.”

Award winning children’s author, Phil Kettle, knows teacher librarians make a difference.  Yet in his travels to schools, he too has seen their numbers diminish. “Teacher librarians are essential in ensuring children are provided with diverse reading opportunities. They encourage the wide reading which increases literacy levels.”

Nathan Godfrey, of Softlink International, a leading developer of library systems, confirms this. Softlink has undertaken a study of NAPLAN results and school library resourcing and found a strong relationship between the two. These findings were included in the Softlink submission to the recent federal Inquiry into School Libraries and Teacher Librarians in Australian Schools.  Mr Godfrey said “These results are of interest to the whole education community.  There was a significant positive correlation between a school’s library budget and NAPLAN Reading Literacy scores. Importantly, there was also a significant positive correlation between the number of school librarians employed in the school and literacy scores.  As a result of this research, Softlink’s own product development is focused on using the school library system to provide additional guidance to teachers on student literacy levels.”

The Federal Inquiry took evidence of over 60 studies internationally confirming this. 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.

“Yet, the Victorian government seems unaware of the research.  They refused to appear at the hearings,” says Mrs. Phillips. “While we still await the federal inquiry report, interrupted by the election, the Victorian government must take the initiative. If they truly care about literacy and student achievement, they must require and support the staffing of their school libraries with qualified teacher librarians.”

Contact: Georgia Phillips, The Hub, 0419423570, https://hubinfo.wordpress.com

Contact: Phil Kettle   0417663396

Contact: Nathan Godfrey, Softlink Chief Operating Officer  07 3124 6111





While we wait for the Inquiry report, NSW burns

26 08 2010

Media Release

27 August 2010

The Hub: Campaign for Quality School Libraries in Australia/

Illawarra School Libraries Association

NSW government to cut teacher services to save money

In yet another attempt to bring its financial house in order, the NSW government has ordered a review of services, including those to schools and school libraries.  The proposed restructuring to save on duplication will instead eliminate some vital services entirely.

In the past, NSW School Library Services had 10 education officers, 4 librarians and 8 support staff. Both Liberal and Labor governments terminated many such central support services, including regional consultancies. The School Libraries and Information Literacy Unit which remained has had a manager and review coordinator, journal editor, 3 librarians and 2 technicians. Its journal, SCAN, remains the only state teacher curriculum support journal. Its contribution to the national schools cataloguing database is the largest, along with Western Australia.

“In an attempt to save some 7% in costs, half of these positions will be lost,” says Georgia Phillips, co-founder of the Hub: Campaign for Quality School Libraries in Australia. “Not of ‘duplicate services,’ for there is no other body providing advisory services to schools concerning their libraries or reviewing teaching resources.  No other body runs professional development targeting teacher librarians and school libraries. No other body advises the NSW DET on library and resource policy.”

“The recent DET exercise in envisioning the future of 21st C school libraries,” says Mrs. Phillips, “was a lengthy collegiate online forum led by overseas and Australian academics. It now seems a wasted effort, its recommendations ignored. Once again money comes before teaching and learning.”

Margaret Cooper, President of the Illawarra School Libraries Association says, “I have been a teacher librarian for 20 years and I am horrified to think that DET will be withdrawing specific support for school libraries under the proposed restructure.”

“Teacher librarians,” says Mrs. Cooper, “are unique members of school staffs. We are virtually on our own and without the support of the School Libraries team, teacher librarians will struggle to provide many learning opportunities.”

“The Unit provides website development support and promotes new digital learning tools to enable students to make sense of the vast amounts of information available on the internet. Having attended one of their courses this year, even my experienced eyes were opened and I have started using new digital tools that I had not had time to research on my own. Yet their training role has been eliminated.”

“Many teacher librarians,” says Mrs. Cooper, “have very limited administration time and without the training and support of the School Libraries Unit, teacher librarians will not be providing the services that 21st century schools need, which is, ironically the aim of the restructure. Why would anyone consider removing the very leadership that will ensure that teachers adopt and use the digital learning tools that our students deserve to encounter in our schools today?”

Jane McKenzie, teacher librarian and assistant principal at the small country school of Quirindi, also expressed her concern. “The Department’s own submission to the federal Inquiry into School Libraries and Teacher Librarians now looks a sham. It affirmed the vital role of school libraries in learning and the need to ‘ensure equity and capacity for libraries as dynamic, high-tech 21C learning centres’ yet now it proposes to undermine these.”

“The unit gives statewide policy and procedural support to school leaders, holds purpose built workshops and generates teaching and learning support materials statewide for teachers,” says Jane.

And Jane asks, “Aren’t all public schools, even remote ones, entitled to quality digital and book resources, advice and support on 21st century resource and information services, the best in terms of literature and non-fiction books (e-books and databases) that support authentic, enquiry based learning?”

“Is the name of the game” says Mrs. Phillips, “really about improving learning and literacy, quality teaching and school leadership, or is this only another cost cutting exercise to save a government on its last breath?”

Contact

Georgia Phillips, The Hub 0419423570, 42942966

Margaret Cooper President ISLA, 4295 1334, 043-837-7391

Jane McKenzie, Quirindi PS (02)6746 5748,  0429074443