Friday, December 7, 2012

Policy Change for School Libraries in Louisiana

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Just last week I blogged about the importance of being an advocate for your school library and in so doing you will be an advocate for all school libraries. Little did I know that less than seven days after writing that post the need for advocacy would reach a critical point in Louisiana. The Board of Elementary and State Education (BESE), which is the Louisiana state board of elected and appointed officials, has decided that they can help reform the schools by amending Bulletin 741. This is the handbook that the administrators in all districts must use as the guidelines for managing all public schools. The title page and forward is pictured below.
Click the above image to enlarge

Then the other day, a librarian in northern Louisiana sent out a link to Bulletin 741 with all the points in the document that BESE wants to cut. There are lines drawn through many of the resolutions, but it is Chapter 17, section 1705 that makes me sick. I have made a copy of this section for you to see below. You can click on the image to enlarge it. You can see by all the lines crossed out that school libraries and school librarians may be left out of a school budget with ease. It is now going to be up to the districts to decide if a librarian is necessary, and also it is not required that libraries receive a budget for materials. 

Open here to see Bulletin 741 in its entirety









Excuse me? I am not important? Library resources are not important for educating our students? I beg to differ. I offer so much to the faculty and students at my school. I opened the library in 2006 with 1800 books on the shelves. Through hard work and many hours of writing grants, the library now has over 6400 volumes, over 600 electronic reference books and many other electronic resources too. When colleges and universities are rated for quality, the library and the number of volumes in the library is always part of the equation. Why is that not true for elementary and secondary school too? It should be. This is my 21st year as a librarian in a public school in Louisiana. I have faced cuts to the library before on the local level, but a district would always have to get a waiver if the libraries did not follow the state guidelines. Now the state wants to allow districts to make all the changes they want without waivers -- all in the name of reform. This is not reform. It is all about money and not spending it. Without a library, a school and school districts would save an enormous amount of money. But at what cost? The students of Louisiana would definitely lose out. If you want to know 100 things that students would lose without their librarian and library, click here right now.

What can you do? If you live in Louisiana you need to contact your BESE representative before the January 16, 2013 meeting and tell them not to slash school libraries. Tell everyone you know to do the same. Click here to open the link for the contact info for all BESE members. If you need talking points, check out the list of 100 things that students would miss without a school library. If you don't live in Louisiana, you need to be an advocate for your library or your favorite school library.

4 comments:

  1. Thank you so much, Elizabeth, for your great blog post in helping get the word out to librarians!

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  2. Your welcome. I think the students of Louisiana deserve a great education, and it can't happen with out school libraries.

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  3. This is utterly appalling. I am a librarian at a community college, and I can't tell you how many times a student has told me that they've never set foot in a library before. Yes, there is a great deal of information available online, but this only compounds the issue with information overload. And then there's the false assumption that everything is available online - not even close! Too many students want to just google their topics and take the first hits; the result is usually garbage. The need for information literacy instruction is greater now than ever before. Students who are exposed to libraries and librarians at the elementary and secondary levels make much better college students, or, if they don't go on to college, better informed/educated citizens in general. Information literacy transcends ALL disciplines and professions. We teach them how to fish, and which are the keepers and which are not!

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  4. Thank you for posting this. I have just added it to my Facebook wall, with this comment:

    Friends and family in Louisiana, I strongly encourage you to read the Loud Librarian's blog post, and to contact your BESE representative as she suggests. BESE is considering revisions that would basically allow elementary and middle schools to eliminate libraries.

    Because teaching children to read, and providing them with stuff to read (particularly low-income students whose families don't have the luxury of providng books in the home) is apparently not a high priority.

    Bad enough that we have scaled back so dramatically (pardon the pun) on art and music and physical education programs. What next? No need for textbooks, we'll just provide links to Google? And science experiments? We can just watch some YouTube videos of guys popping Mentos in Diet Coke.

    ReplyDelete

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