Tuesday, March 30, 2010

So much for data-driven decisions...

With all the hoopla in educational circles these days about data-driven teaching, the current decimation of library positions flabbergasts me. Study after study drives home the need for trained school librarians and their impact on improved test scores, yet district by district, and state by state, schools are slashing library positions, replacing professionals with untrained aids or eliminating positions altogether.

TO visualize the devastation, Shonda Brisco created a Google map of districs where librarians are either fired or on notice: blue push pins represent eliminated positions, red push-pins are warnings. Brisco encourages everyone to participate, but as Joyce Valenza notes, we need to document not only the eliminated positions, but also--dare I say--the inevitable drop in scores and skills.

View A Nation Without School Librarians in a larger map

Here in Connecticut, out of 27 districts reporting, eleven projected cuts of certified librarians--that's on top cuts in previous years. They also project a cut in part-time and aide hours equivalent to six full time positions. This at a time when the very nature of information and information literacy is changing.

Particularly disturbing, many of the project cuts stem from poor districts, widening the education gap for at-risk students even further.

Librarians, while great at promoting reading, are not great at promoting themselves. We need to reverse this trend now. Spread the word; write articles for your local paper, lobby your members of congress. Most librarians know by now of the outrageous omission of libraries from Obama's educational drive, despite past speeches promoting their importance. We need to educate the public and the parents, sparking more grass-roots protests like the one in Spokane, Washington.

Let the rebellion begin!

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