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

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Qld: “Get rid of teacher librarians”

10 07 2010

Media Release 11 July 2010

It is possible that teacher librarians will be gone in Queensland by 2013.

Following Tuesday’s hearing in Brisbane, 10th out of 12 in the House Inquiry into School Libraries and Teacher Librarians, it was revealed that several Queensland regional executive directors of education have endorsed the decision of their principals to “get rid of teacher librarians.” One reason may be lack of funds for Curriculum leadership positions necessitated by the National Curriculum and the National Partnership Agreements.

Education Queensland abandoned a central school library service in the 1980s. The curriculm support service it evolved into ended in 1991.The last position of Education Officer-Curriculum Resources who had liaised, monitored and contributed to policy in all resource service matters in schools is gone.

Education Queensland ended scholarships for the training of teacher librarians in 1992, while Cath Ed have sponsored the training of more than 55 TLs between early 1990s and 2010 with more planned for 2011.

Education Queensland has increasingly allowed teacher librarians to be taken from the library and put into classrooms. Retiring teacher librarians are not being replaced. Now, with support from the centre, seven high schools on the Gold Coast have no teacher librarians.

Under school based management, state school library budgets, for the most part, have remained static or decreased in real terms.

This is in total disregard for the plentiful international research linking teacher librarians with increased literacy and academic outcomes. Research which the Qld DET director of Workforce Futures, Gary Francis, couldn’t say he has heard of.

Dr. Dennis Jensen, deputy chair of the inquiry, stated, “There almost seems to be a systemic and deliberate policy of running down the teacher librarian profession. It is staggering that of the places we have been, Tasmania and the Northern Territory are the two that are the most rundown.” Later, Dr. Jensen reiterated, “The interesting thing is that some of the anecdotal evidence that we have been getting, particularly in some states, is that this is a profession that is being allowed to die. Whether it is passive or active is another question.” (See Brisbane Hearing transcript)

Georgia Phillips, co-founder of The Hub, Campaign for Quality School Libraries in Australia, and one initiator of the federal inquiry, says, “You must wonder if state education is really about improving student learning. Or is it strictly about money?”

“Private Anglican schools for example, often have two teacher librarians, along with numbers of other support staff, and at least twice the budgets of state schools. Where is the equity?” says Mrs. Phillips.

The hope is that the report from this inquiry will provide some answers.

Further Hearings are scheduled for Adelaide on Monday and Perth on Tuesday.

Transcripts and Hearing programs available at http://www.aph.gov.au/house/committee/edt/schoollibraries/index.htm

Contact Georgia Phillips
0419423570