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,





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





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





You have 18 Days to Lobby for Teacher Librarians

19 07 2010

Seize this election  opportunity. While we await its outcome and that of the Inquiry report, NOW is the time to contact candidates and ask them to support school libraries and teacher librarians. It is also an opportunity to educate them. You can find your electorate here and find your candidates here. Many candidates already in office are only responding to their own constitutents, so be sure to put your name and address.

Toward that end, here is a brief sample letter and  here is a longer sample letter you can adapt for your local federal candidates. And you can adapt these letters if your candidate is one of the hardworking House Education committee members who should be congratulated on their efforts. Phoning or visiting your candidates is even better.

If you get a response, The Hub would be very interested in seeing it. Email to HelloHub@gmail.com .

See also the template letters on the ALIA election site. Using your state or territory’s hearing transcript for relevant quotations is a great idea of Karen Bonanno’s.

Whatever you do, do let your candidates know that school libraries make a difference to student learning and literacy and it is time to arrest their national decline!





What do students lose when they lose their TL?

16 02 2010

Under a current NSW pilot trialing devolution of staffing from the state to school level, Loftus PS has lost its teacher librarian (TL), even while a new BER library is being completed. The TL position has been traded for extra administrative staff and a lower paid teacher.

What do these students lose?

  • A trained professional who develops a targeted collection of print and digital resources to support teaching and learning
  • A teacher who can coordinate a whole school approach to developing student information literacy skills
  • A specialist in children’s literature who can excite and encourage the love of reading
  • An information specialist who can provide IT, literacy, information literacy, copyright and plagiarism PD to teachers
  • A specialist staff member who research has shown can make a difference to student literacy and learning

Previous to this, NSW has staffed every school with at least a part-time teacher librarian.  DET has even ensured that these teachers get training in a masters level teacher librarianship course by supporting them financially.

So what might be the educational rationale here?  It is hard to see any.

Julia Gillard waxes lyrical about principals being allowed to mold their staff mix to local school needs for the Quality Teachers National Partnership. This partnership agreement states:

“The Improving Teacher Quality National Partnership (NP) aims to deliver system-wide reforms targeting critical points in the teacher ‘lifecycle’ to attract, train, place, develop and retain quality teachers and leaders in our schools and classrooms. It also has a specific focus on professional development and support for principals.”

But one can’t help thinking the real bottom line is dollars.  It is the price of a teacher and the cost of a position which will surely determine the mix. No PD for principals has focused on supporting school libraries or the development of excellent TLs to improve student achievement. No federal program has examined staffing, training needs, or use of teacher librarians to improve student literacy and learning. No summary of the international and national research on best practice in school libraries has been made available to school leaders for decision-making.

When (if?) the MySchool website publishes data on the training, staffing and scheduling of teacher librarians, we will be able to see if school libraries make a difference. Look at correlations now with general school staffing and NAPLAN results.

This “devolution” in staffing has been a trend in all the other states and territories, and has resulted in a severe decline in the number of professionally qualified TLs in all state schools, even those getting the new BER libraries. Overall, nationally, 35% of school libraries do not have a qualified TL.

So write to the Minister of Education, Verity Firth, now:  office@firth.minister.nsw.gov.au

And the NSW Shadow Minister of Education, Adrian Picolli: murrumbidgee@parliament.nsw.gov.au

Get your parents to write.  Show them what their children and our students and teachers will lose when they lose their TL. Here is a sample letter you are free to use and adapt.  NSWPilotletter





My School: Open letter to Julia Gillard

28 01 2010

Ms Julia Gillard
Prime Minister

Dear Ms Gillard,
Throughout the media frenzy that has accompanied the launch of the My school website, your  message has been, “We need to identify underperforming schools and seek ways to improve their performance”.

In recent years, a particular primary school won the National Literacy and Numeracy Week Award for $10 000 in recognition of the quality of its literacy program.  Now, just a few years later, according to the My school website, it is scarcely meeting the national average for literacy benchmarks, and in several categories,  it is statistically below the average.

What might explain the change?  Could it be that then the school had a fully qualified teacher librarian, a full-time ESL teacher and a Reading Recovery teacher? Now, under a different leadership, it does not.

Research study after research study, here and overseas,  has shown that one of the most important indicators of academic performance is the quality of a school’s library, particularly if it has a qualified teacher librarian and an integrated information literacy program. Please refer to http://www.asla.org.au/research/ for links to this research.

If your government is truly committed to identifying underperforming schools and putting measures in place to improve that performance, when is it going to take notice of the research and mandate that every student has the right to access a qualified teacher librarian and quarantine that position within the school?

It is frequently stated that “staffing is a state issue” but clearly, given the decline in the number of teacher librarians in primary schools in particular, the state and territories are not committed to best practice for its students. Despite the billions invested in buildings and resources, too many state and territory governments believe that unqualified part-time administrative staff have the skills to provide students with what is required to be information literate and to work collaboratively in teaching.

If the current interest in improving outcomes for students is more than a vote-catcher, given that its target audience is the largest voting demographic, when is the federal government going to show real leadership and follow up its national review of the role and responsibilities of the teacher librarian, and mandate that there be at least one qualified teacher librarian in every school and give today’s students access to the quality education they deserve?

Looking forward to your response,

The Hub





Support Indigenous Literacy in NT schools by staffing them with TLs

31 08 2009

It can’t hurt Indigenous Literacy Day that they have the Prime Minister’s wife as a patron.  I wonder if she knows how poorly off school libraries are in the NT?

95% of NT schools have NO school librarians!  which may go a long way towards explaining illiteracy.

Most schools in the NT have budget of less than $1000 per year for their libraries.

School library collections in NT remote schools (the majority) do not have a large range of resources often used to develop pre-reading skills such as  big books, games, puzzles, posters and charts. Students in these schools do not have access to magazines, maps,  or newspapers which are especially useful for reluctant readers (often boys) and teenage readers.

Nearly half the schools in the NT do not have access to traditional learning technologies such as videos, DVDs, CDs and CD-ROMs.

So is it any wonder that we must try to do something to help indigenous students to learn to read?

Our own local teacher librarians group did its bit by purchasing donated books of local children’s literature reviewer, Dr. Kerry White (The Source).  The book sale that kicked off at the Illawarra School Librarians Association meeting on 2 July at Wollongong Public School finished with almost $2000 raised for the Indigenous Literacy Project, http://www.worldwithoutbooks.org/.

We can also help by supporting our colleagues in the NT in lobbying federal members regarding staffing and resourcing of school libraries there.  They have written to their local minister of education:

The Australian School Libraries Association: Northern Territory Branch (ASLA NT) wishes to bring to your attention the growing trend towards the removal of teacher librarian positions in many schools in the Northern Territory.  We are very concerned about the negative impact this trend will have on student learning.

Let’s support them with a message to our local federal members to let them know there are many ways we can support indigenous literacy. The most significant one would be by resourcing quality school libraries staffed by certified teacher librarians.

Tell them that studies in the US, Canada, Australia and the UK have provided strong evidence that school libraries with certified teacher librarians can have a positive impact on student literacy and learning (Jones 2007, Lance 2000, 2002, etc., Small 2008, Todd 2003, and others). These are some of the findings: Student reading scores increase. Students read more. Students say they enjoy reading more. Students are provided with “materials that present more diverse points of view and that better support the curriculum.” Students score higher in (US) English Language Arts tests. Students have increased cultural identity. Collections of print and digital resources to support teaching and learning are more dynamic. Students value teacher librarians as teachers, when they are helped to become independent critical information seekers. (Further reading at https://hubinfo.wordpress.com/background/research/)

Indigenous Literacy Day?

A good day to write a letter!!  Perhaps project manager, Karen Williams  karen@indigenousliteracyproject.org.au would also forward a letter to patron Therese Rein (I don’t suppose anyone would have her email address?).  Perhaps Ms Rein could gain someone’s ear to support our colleagues in the Northern Territory in making sure every school has a well-resourced library and a teacher librarian to support indigenous literacy.

Cheers,

Georgia