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Petition Tag - librarians
To: Portland Public School Board Members and Portland Public Schools Superintendent
The Oregon Library Association (OLA), the Portland Area Information Literacy Group (P.A.I.L.), and the undersigned Oregon librarians and library media specialists want to express support for libraries, teacher-librarians and library media specialists in all of Portland Public School libraries. The OLA is a statewide association of over 1,000 members composed of academic, public, and special librarians from across Oregon. P.A.I.L. is a group of Portland area librarians from public, school, college and university libraries in the Portland area. We advocate for Information Literacy for all of our library users and students.
P.A.I.L. has met over the last three years and found from the very first conversation that we had a common concern: “Students seeking a post-secondary education lacked the requisite knowledge to do high quality research using the multitude of resources available in today’s modern library.” From our discussions we discovered that support for professional teacher-librarians and library media specialist (LMS) in Portland Public Schools had been waning over the years. It was a stunning epiphany for all, especially the college librarians.
We write to you in support of staffing your school libraries with professional librarians and support staff, providing equal and equitable access to both a qualified librarian and a professionally developed library collection. The role of administering a library program and library media center also involves someone who is an expert in curriculum and provides high quality resources teachers and students need. Research has consistently shown that school librarians and strong libraries correlate strongly with student success and retention. They also prepare students to succeed in post-secondary schooling and to become critical thinkers and well-informed citizens.
We understand that you recently created a new position in the district, one that can help to renew the role of librarians and school libraries across your district, and we applaud your acknowledgement to address this need. We wish to encourage your continuous efforts to bring Portland Public School libraries into the 21st century, and to become the leader for school libraries in Oregon.
Coordinator of the Portland Area Information Literacy Group
Assistant Professor and Reference Librarian, Portland State University
Oregon Library Association. President
Associate Professor, Education and Social Science Librarian, Portland State University
Tucson Unified School Supporters, a coalition of community members and TUSD
parents, is concerned the district’s budget crisis could mean an end to the
following programs we value:
• Small schools - TUSD is proposing closing four schools, some because they
are too small and/or under-enrolled. The district is adopting an anti-small school
philosophy because small schools don’t break even financially, yet we have
many high-performing, very successful small schools in TUSD. While school
closures may be necessary, the district has used a flawed process and not given
parents at the targeted schools enough time or information to make informed
school choice decisions for the coming school year.
• Small classes - TUSD would end small class sizes in first grade in the 2008-
2009 school year and increase kindergarten to 24 children in a class. Class
sizes in other grades would also increase because of budget constraints.
• Librarians and/or counselors: Elementary schools would have to decide
whether to have a librarian or counselor; they could not have both.
As a coalition, we call upon TUSD to explore other budget-cutting or money-
raising ideas that preserve successful schools and these programs, which have
been shown to improve students’ academic achievement.
We plan to work with the district and provide support in identifying and
advocating for cost-saving measures that will not harm our children.
NOTE: THE PLACE TO SIGN THE PETITION IS AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS PAGE
Citizens across the state of Washington are calling on state leaders to ensure that all Washington elementary and secondary students have full-time access to school libraries and a certified teacher librarian.
It is our hope that Washington voices can help reverse the trend of serious reductions to our school library programs by calling on our leaders to ensure that teacher librarians, library programs and technology training are no longer at risk. It is our wish that our children and their teachers have full and equal access to the literacy and collaborative opportunities provided by our school libraries and certified teacher librarians. It is our belief that information literacy and the technology training facilitated in our school libraries are crucial to our children, and that the teacher librarian's knowledge of student ability allows them to place "just right books" into the hands of students, fostering a love of reading and life-long learning.
The Seattle Times published an article this year (9/12/07) which highlights just some of the cuts that have occurred in Washington: “Around the state, school districts are cutting librarian services in order to balance their budget. Last year, the Darrington School District cut two librarians. This year, Granite Falls cut 1.5 librarians, leaving 1.5 to staff its four schools. Monroe didn't replace one retiring librarian, so some librarians now travel between schools.
Marysville cut one elementary-school librarian. Federal Way schools cut 20 librarians, and the Spokane School District made 10 elementary-school librarian positions half-time.”
The results of numerous studies indicate that Washington students and teachers would be best served by intact, fully-funded library and technology programs.
The U.S. Commission on Libraries and Information Science summarizes what decades of research have shown in state after state after state:
*Students in schools with good school libraries learn more, get better grades, and score higher on standardized test scores than their peers in schools without libraries.
*School Libraries have an important role in teaching. Certified teacher librarians are working with teachers to change what is possible in the classroom and support learning opportunities with books, computer resources and more.
*School libraries are leading the way for technology use in schools.
*School libraries inspire literacy.
*School libraries need to be staffed by a certified teacher librarian in order to have a positive impact on student academic achievement. (http://www.nclis.gov)
To access an extensive list of research please see http://www.lrs.org/impact.php
Dr. Michael B. Eisenberg, Dean Emeritus and Professor of Library and Information Science at the University of Washington, puts it like this:
“This is the information age. Key basic skills for all students are reading, communicating, information and technology literacy. To quote Bill Gates, ‘Computers today are a million times more powerful than 20 years ago. And, it’s going to happen again. In 20 years, computers will be a million times more powerful than today.’
What does that mean for our children? What will it mean to live and succeed in such a world? Our children will need to be more than literate – they will need to be fluent in reading, communicating, information processing and technology.”
The state of Washington has an historic opportunity to make what Dr. Eisenberg describes a reality. The Washington State Legislature has convened a bipartisan basic education funding task force that is charged with reviewing the definition of basic education and the state's education funding formulas. This is historic because, in the words of Senate Majority Leader and task force member Lisa Brown, "Washington's basic education allocation formula – the way our state pays for K-12 public education – hasn't substantially changed since 1977. We still are trying to fund 21st-century schools using an outdated 20th-century model, and it's time for change." Washington voters agree, and their voices will be heard when petition signatures and comments are submitted to members of the task force. (Please take a moment to submit a comment along with your signature - your message will be sent directly to WA leaders.)
We are encouraged and hopeful that the joint task force will review the research, consider the issues surrounding school library services, and will do what is necessary to see that school libraries, teacher librarians and information technology receive adequate and sustained funding.
The authors of this petition are parents whose children attend school in a Washington district that recently made the third cut in four years to library programs. We have formed a state-wide coalition to advocate for the issues addressed in this petition.
Charter members of the coalition include:
Don Barbieri, Chairman of Red Lion Corporation. Served three governors as Economic Development Commissioner and chaired the state's Quality of Life Task Force.
Dr. Mike Eisenberg, founding dean of the Information School at the University of Washington. Currently Professor and Dean Emeritus. Dr. Eisenberg, along with Bob Berkowitz, developed the Big6, the most widely-known and widely-used approach to teaching information and technology skills in the world.
Dr. Gene Sharratt, Clinical Assistant Professor in Washington State University's Department of Educational Leadership and Counseling Psychology. Dr. Sharratt is the Director of the Washington State University Superintendent Certification program and research advisor for the Center for Educational Effectiveness.
Jan Walsh, Washington State Librarian, Office of the Secretary of State
If you would like to join the coalition or are seeking additional information, please visit fundourfuturewashington.org to learn more about WCS-lit The Washington Coalition for School Libraries & Information Technology as well as to access a plethora of research on the issue.
"The library - STAFFED BY A HIGHLY QUALIFIED TEACHER-LIBRARIAN - is an
INTEGRAL and INDISPENSABLE component of the unique learning environment
created in each of the (Tucson Unified School) District's elementary, middle and
Integral. Indispensable. No ambiguity there in the TUSD Governing Board's
own policy statement about the importance of its library system - and the
importance of having its libraries staffed by a "highly qualified teacher-librarian."
Yet, the TUSD Governing Board is considering eliminating elementary school
librarians all together in the 08-09 school year - replacing them with lower paid,
uncertified clerks to check books in and out. At the high school level, numbers
would be reduced, leaving just one librarian in charge at schools with as many
as 2,855 students.
Why adopt this grocery-store-clerk model for our libraries - the loci of learning
in our public schools? Projected TUSD budget deficits. To help trim this year's
deficit of more than $9 million, the district wants to close down the libraries'
technical services department, whose already reduced staff of two provide
technical support, make online orders and catalog materials.
Librarians have been on the TUSD chopping block before. Faced with a
projected $17 million budget deficit for 2006, the district made a similar
proposal after soliciting "Bright Ideas" from the public and staff to save money.
Librarians ultimately survived, the reason why memorialized on a TUSD website
section entitled "Bright Ideas We Rejected and Why." It states: "These
positions (certified librarians) play an important role in supporting student
So why are we considering this "not so bright" idea again?
TUSD is jumping on a very misguided national bandwagon, poised to follow
the example of other districts where school librarians have been eliminated or
reduced in number. "Highly endangered" is the term the The American Library
Association used last year to describe these very valuable educators at our
increasingly underfunded public schools.
Everyone is looking for a quick fix to the pubic education funding crisis we
face. Gutting our school libraries is not the solution.
Extensive studies show that students attending schools staffed by certified
librarians score much better on standardized testing and reading scores than in
schools without librarians.
In addition, our school libraries play a critical role in giving students
technology skills crucial for success in the 21st Century. Libraries now are the
computer hubs in our public education system - a place where students go to
learn to access information online, develop the critical thinking skills needed to
discern fact from fiction in the age of "information overload," and where their
teachers work with librarians to integrate technology into the curriculum.
The future of our country's economic and social structure depend on students
developing these skills.
Apart from teaching technology skills, our librarians also foster a love of
reading -- and it's well known that good readers become good students who
become successful adults.
Are clerks, who are not certified teachers and lack the master's degree
required of librarians, going to be the best stewards of the district's elementary
school book collection, valued at $13 million? Are they going to know how to
build those school collections? Are they going to know what books to
recommend to teachers or students on particular topic or at specific reading
The answer is No.
If we lose our librarians, we also would further marginalize children from
homes without access to computers or literature. Of TUSD's 70 elementary
schools, 25 receive Title 1 federal funding because about 40 percent of the
school families are low-income. Another 10 elementary schools receive partial
Title 1 funding.
The savings from these proposed cuts is $1.34 million - a small fraction of the
district's $360 million budget - and only $23 for each of TUSD's 59,105
students. A twenty dollar bill and some ones -- it's a small amount to pay per
student to preserve our "highly qualified teacher-librarians," they are the
integral and indispensable components of our public education system.
NOTE: The place to sign this petition is at the bottom of this page.
Spokane citizens are gravely concerned about the proposal to cut full-time librarians at ten elementary schools (Lidgerwood, Garfield, Roosevelt, Balboa, Westview, Ridgeview, Linwood, Indian Trail, and Holmes). Such a move would adversely affect nearly 4000 Spokane children. These students would be joining another 1,000 Spokane children that already lost full-time librarians in a budget cut three years ago (Franklin, Wilson, Pratt, Adams and Madison).
The cost of keeping full-time librarians amounts to less than 1% of the District's budget.
Teacher-librarians play an absolutely essential role in 21st century education. Among other things, they foster in children both the ability to access information as well as the critical thinking skills needed to use information correctly; they facilitate effective integration of technology into the school curriculum; they work in collaboration with classroom teachers to meet curriculum standards in the areas of technology and information literacy; and, perhaps most importantly, they foster a love of reading and learning in students of all ages.
The Spokane School District, the second largest District in the state of Washington, is facing a $10.7MM budget deficit. This deficit is, indeed, significant, and stems from problems at the federal, state and local levels. The Federal and State governments are under funding mandated programs, which has for years led the District to use levy money to make up the difference, over $10MM in last year's budget alone.
At the local level, Spokane, like many urban districts, is suffering from declining enrollment due to demographics and an exodus to suburban districts. A second local issue stems from Spokane's large medical sector; simply put, Spokane is Eastern Washington’s medical magnet for children with special needs. The city also receives a significant number of special needs children from the Fairchild Air Force Base Community; many military families with special needs children request to be stationed in Spokane because both the medical care and the School District’s programs are exceptional.
Several years ago, Congress made a promise to gradually increase federal funding to 40% of the average annual cost of a special education student. Coverage has stagnated around 19%. At the state level, special education funding is capped at 12.7%; Spokane registers over that cap. If special education had been funded above the cap in this last session, Spokane would have received $1,950,000 in 2007-2008. Instead, the cost will be covered by levy funds.
Although the crisis looms large, we have come to a juncture where funding for education, both at the state and federal level, stands to change. The Federal Government is in the process of updating the No Child Left Behind Act, and our own WA Senators describe increasing special education funds a top priority for this Congress. At a state level, a taskforce charged with updating the Washington State funding formula is forming next month, while a 'safety net' fund for special needs costs saw increased appropriations this year.
Given the fact that desperately needed changes are on the horizon, and considering the fact that the cost of keeping librarians is relatively small, cutting elementary school librarians is not a solution worth pursuing. The cost to our students, and our community, is simply too great.
In today's schools the library is the locus of both technology and information training. Cutting back to part-time librarian/clerks would gravely affect the computer and information literacy training so essential to graduating students who hope to become competitive members of the workforce.
Four of the ten schools slated for librarian cuts are Title I, and a fifth serves a 60% free and reduced-lunch demographic. Were it not for the training provided by our school librarians, most of these children would not have access to technology and information literacy training at all. Eliminating full-time librarians would most certainly result in these children being further marginalized- so much so they may never catch up.
The decision to erode a program that serves such an essential and visible function in our schools will compromise Spokane’s image for business recruitment and retention, will adversely affect future university placements, and stands to negatively impact the caliber of Spokane’s future workforce.
Many people choose to remain in or move to Spokane because of the family-friendly lifestyle residents enjoy, and exceptional schools are an essential component of this character. We feel strongly that cutting school librarians would, in a very clear way, undermine one of Spokane’s greatest strengths.