Sunday, March 17, 2013

Heartbreak for Librarians

Heartbroken.  That's how I feel right now.

Yes, today is the last vestiges of my spring break, but that's not why I feel like crying.  At least at this moment.

I'm heartbroken for all of the librarians in Pasco County who have had their jobs slashed because the  school district does not deem them as valuable to the students and their education.  Really?  I would have thought that the "powers that be" were smarter than this.  Actually, I had hoped they were smarter.  Now, they are all scrambling for jobs for next school year.

Oh, but some can return to the classroom if they wish.  IF they happen to have openings.  Otherwise, "too bad, so sad for you."

It's news like this that makes my blood pressure boil.  How can a district be so dense?  Have they not read the reports about how school librarians actually help improve the test scores all of the politicians love to tout about?  

What about all of the students who "hate" reading?  Who is going to give them the book that magically unlocks their small world and turns that student into a lifetime reader?

Who is going to be the advocate for those students who don't really fit in anywhere else?  Where are they going to go to find their "safe place?"  To be around others who are also termed "misfits" in their school?  To form lasting friendships?

Who else is going to be a sounding board for students when they have ideas that no one else will stop and take the time to listen to?  Where else can a student go to talk about their home life issues and to feel like there's a stable adult in their life? (I can assure  you it won't be a guidance counselor, because they're too busy with scheduling.)

Where are the students going to turn when they need help with their research assignments because they've never been formally taught how to research, and the curriculum demands that they know how to do it without breaking it into chunks for them?  To help them understand what they're actually reading when they do an internet search, and to evaluate sources as reliable or not?  ('Cause let me tell you their teachers don't know how to do it, not to mention they don't have the  time either.)

We've all seen the memes of librarians holding the key to knowledge through reading books.  Sometimes we laugh because there are many different forms out there-just check Pinterest.  But we also laugh because as adults and educators, we know  this to be true.

I give the analogy that I'm like the local bartender (sans drinks) as a school librarian.  Students, teachers, community members, and even administrators sidle up to my counter (circulation desk) and tell me their problems.  Some just need a listening ear, while others are looking for help.  I am there to provide that support for them.  I help the entire school population-not just the 200 or so students that were assigned to me when I was a classroom teacher.  I MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN ALL OF THEIR LIVES.

Budget cuts are rampant throughout the nation.  You have to only turn on the news to hear about how unemployment rates are high and that wages are low.  For some of us, we only have to look at our bank accounts to come to the same realization.  

I understand that school districts are having to cut the non-essentials, but librarians ARE essential.  I encourage any administrator, teacher, or even better-school board member, to be a librarian at your local school for a few days.  Ask the librarian about their schedules and choose the days where we have classes scheduled to come in.  See what it's like to run a school library on your own without aides AND without the librarian around to help you.  Then come back and tell me that I'm non-essential to the educational system.

If you're looking at budget cuts, why not start looking at some of your own salaries.  If superintendents and the rest of the lackeys would make the same amount a principal, or even better, a classroom teacher, I guarantee each school district would have more money.  Also, since we have adopted Common Core across the nation, why are we still paying millions for students to test all of these ridiculous standardized tests?  We spend more time out of the classroom testing the students than we actually spend in the classroom.  Eliminate some of the testing and there's a whole lot more money. 

Of course, what do I know, I'm just a librarian.

Thanks for reading.  I can be extremely political--especially when my feathers get ruffled.  After all, who is standing up for the other librarians?  The news has definitely kept hush-hush about it.  That's why there's not an uproar.  If I'm not willing to stick my neck out and yell for my profession, then I deserve to be axed.  Now go out and make some noise!


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