It is with utter shock that I have read this article about Los Angeles teacher librarians essentially being put on trial to prove they are qualified as teachers.
The byline from the article reads:
If state education cuts are drastic, the librarians’ only chance of keeping a paycheck is to prove they’re qualified to be switched to classroom teaching. So LAUSD attorneys grill them.
Stunning to say the least. This really takes me back to just a few weeks ago when the SCASL Advocacy committee was begging any and all SC school librarians, members or not, to fill out the Library Snapsot Day survey. I had to wonder if apathy was prevailing when we barely had a tenth of the state’s school librarians participating. But we continued to prod, encourage, and border-line harass those in our state, and finally wound up with a little more than a fourth submitting data and for some, pictures. Our committee is working to create an advocacy tool for any to use. Some have already jumped the gun, and worked up their own school or district advocacy tools! This one is compliments of Tamara Cox at Palmetto Middle School, and representative of her school district’s libraries:
If the video did not show in your reader, it is well worth the time to click through this link to see it.
But wait, some need their “end of the year venting” time
And then last week came, and there was a thread from LM_Net shared –an “end of the year venting” introduced to our SCASL listserv. It brought all kinds of comments out and really was so negative, I began deleting any part of the thread that showed up in my inbox. While there were those who thankfully forced the thread back to a positive spin, it still left a nasty taste in my mouth. I was so very thankful that one, I stayed out of it, and two, this thread did not make it over to our new SCASL website and forum. I just couldn’t bear the thought of the negativity from that thread staining our forum.
Could you formulate answers in defense?
Reflecting on that, I have to wonder how our librarians would answer some of the questions asked in this so called “trial” held in a basement. Something about this situation in LA smacks of wrong doing, but on whose part? After reading about these LAUSD leaders forcing Teacher Librarians to “prove” they are first a teacher, and therefore are qualified to be placed in a teaching position, I have to wonder where the justice is in this so-called basement courtroom. Yes, the “trial” and interrogation is happening in a basement room. Here is a description of the courtroom:
…a makeshift LAUSD courtroom set up on the bare concrete floor of a building on East 9th Street. Several sit in plastic chairs, watching from an improvised gallery as their fellow librarians are questioned.
By holding these in a basement, are the district leaders subliminally saying you are the lowest form of employment in the district, not even worthy of a professional coutroom? Or perhaps holding them here ensures that morale and self worth stays down among those being tried. Why not hold these silly hearings IN the school library during a school day where the judge and jury (if indeed one existed) can see first hand what happens, and more importantly, how needed and necessary the position is.
So let’s see how you’d answer some of the questions they are being barraged with:
- When was the last time you taught a course for which your librarian credential was not required?
- Do you take attendance?
- Do you issue grades?
- When a librarian tried to use Reading Counts as a defense of teaching a class, she was asked by an LAUSD lawyer, “This is not a class, correct?”
- Have you ever taught PE? (I suppose any other subject could be filled in here.)
This brings to mind the phrase “Survival of the Fittest”
From Wikipedia: An interpretation of the phrase “survival of the fittest” to mean “only the fittest organisms will prevail” (a view sometimes derided as “Social Darwinism“) is not consistent with the actual theory of evolution. Any individual organism which succeeds in reproducing itself is “fit” and will contribute to survival of its species, not just the “physically fittest” ones, though some of the population will be better adapted to the circumstances than others. A more accurate characterization of evolution would be “survival of the fit enough”.
I suppose this fits with school libraries when test scores are the bottom line. Essentially, in today’s school leader views, if you do not directly impact those highly regarded test scores, then you are not important, and more accurately at least in their eyes, part of the problem of wasteful spending.
THIS IS SO FRIGHTENING!!
So what is the solution? Use advocacy opportunities. Talk to stakeholders, and share the current temperature of libraries truthfully. Contact you legislators and engage them in conversations about how libraries impacted their lives, your life, the lives of your students, and more. Compare libraries of long ago to what the reality is today. Share any and all success stories from the library point of view. photo © 2010 Aparna E. | more info (via: Wylio)
Stop complaining at all. There is no room for complaining in our profession. And do these things NOW…before you are invited to a dark, dank, makeshift courtoom in the basement, where you are in the hot seat defending your job.