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15 September 2013 @ 03:35 pm
Cutting off nose to spite face  
When I use old saws such as the one referred to in the title for this post, I know I run the risk of confusing some readers who might never have heard of the saying. Perhaps we need to brainstorm some replacements for phrases such as "like a broken record" or "carrying coals to Newcastle" soon? In any event, the idea of sacrificing something important is at the center of the post for today.

I ran across this article not too long ago: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324769704579006604137520932.html. It reports that NY schools are quietly giving the ax to their school librarians. Here is their rationale: "'We're looking for as much flexibility as we can get that still allows us to provide adequate staffing levels,' said Gregg Betheil, an executive director of academic and talent management for the DOE. He said smaller schools can often share librarians."

And this in indeed a foolhardy move. Teacher unions have been asking that it be stopped to no avail. About half of the schools do not have a full-time librarian. And this is not just an issue in NY but in countless other places as well. This despite what the research says about certified school librarians with adequate collections (and the research is not new; you can access it and the many replications here: http://keithcurrylance.com/school-library-impact-studies/). With the demands of CCSS for the inclusion of more quality nonfiction in all content classes, the school librarian SHOULD be at the forefront and not being pushed out the front door.

This short-sightedness is, of course, nothing new to education. Under the Bush administration, whole language was abandoned (yes, it was supposed to be a balanced approach, but that was apparently only on paper), reading aloud was omitted from the "approved" studies cited for NCLB and, thus, also left behind. Reading for pleasure is the latest casualty of CCSS. Yes, the standards document mentions reading for pleasure, but not within the standards themselves. Gone is appreciation, aesthetics, and TIME. They are replaced by repeated readings, dissection of text, and more skill and rill than I ever thought possible,

What are we willing to sacrifice next? If we do not fight for libraries and librarians (the article says that classroom libraries in part justify not having a school librarian; and that advances in tech have made some library services easily done by teachers and others) where do we draw the line? Some schools are opting to go "book free" and offer only electronic materials instead. This past week, Secretary Duncan decried the wasted monies spent on textbooks and asked why we continue to have these relics that are outmoded as soon as they are published. So, goodbye libraries and librarians and textbooks. Sorry, kids, if you cannot go to the public library (if you can find one and it is open) or access the internet at home, you are out of luck. As it turns out, cutting off noses to spite faces hurts the most vulnerable of our students. And that is the unkindest cut of all.
 
 
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