Ever happened to you?
How many of us have been on the other end of a Tweet, Facebook, or blog post as author and shared something, and then either number one, had second thoughts on the wisdom of the post and removed it, or number two, got the call from a higher authority to take it down? I must confess, I’ve done both. I have copied this post below, and purposefully removed any reference to a teacher librarian or school to keep it anonymous.
Bad News! Please Help!via XXX on 3/23/12
It’s a bad week in the library. Not only has XXXX testing consumed the whole week (proctoring and fitting in every class for a reduced time has not given me a minute to sit down), but the budget cuts came in this week. It’s not looking good.
Line item number XX eliminates all library clerks (meaning Mrs. XXXXXX). It’s devastating to think of the library without her. While I am responsible for the teaching duties, technology, students, and cataloging books, (our clerk) is in charge of all things clerical in the library. She covers books/magazines, shelves all 800 books/week, runs the check outs, trains the students to use the circulation desk, organizes patrons, runs reports and basically keeps the operations moving while my time is spent with the students.
If “they” (the administration/school board) decide that this is not an important job, MY time will NOT be spent hosting book clubs/tech clubs at lunch, spending time with each student helping them to find a book that is on their reading level, working with small groups on research projects, providing lunch time tutoring, collaborating with teachers to make movies/teach lessons/pull resources/integrating technology, or developing innovative uses for the ipads/laptops/computers. My time will be teaching my classes, covering books and shelving books.
This is not the role of a 21st century media specialist. A cut in staff is a cut in service. XXXX Library will go from an innovative, creative, collaborative space to an “old school” check-out-and-go type of library. Who will meet the technological needs of the students? Is this really what we want in XXXXXXX School?
I plan to speak at the school board meeting on Monday. If you value the full library/technology services, I encourage you to do the same or send an email to our school board members. We need all the help we can get.
Either way, it’s been posted and is out there in “internet cyberspace” in various formats, and the one I stumbled across was in the form of an rss feed. I’m protecting the author’s identity since it was removed for some reason. Why would this post stand out to me? I know in our own state our SCASL organization’s Advocacy Committee is working diligently to collect as much information in the form of data, anecdotes, and as strong a tie to curriculum (and test scores) as possible in an effort to provide every teacher librarian in our state proof that our contribution is a much needed part of the complete school program.
The end of the plea says more to me than much of the rest. I know the impact of the teacher librarian. As a TL, I recognize and acknowledge that everything mentioned above is true. That program will suffer if the clerk is lost. But hear me out and consider this. DO THE ONES MAKING THE DECISION (to make cuts, be they personnel or worse) KNOW THIS? And now to my SCASL and even non SCASL friends: What are you doing to ensure your program does not suffer similar cuts? Are you educating the ones who make these difficult cuts? Do they know what it means to offer a quality program? What can you do? EDUCATE them. Make your monthly reports available to all these potential decision makers. SHARE, SHARE, SHARE all the wonderful ways you make a contribution to the big picture at school. For all intents and purposes, by nature we do not draw the spotlight to us. But we MUST draw the spotlight to our programs. If your admin (or those making severe cuts) do not know why you have a dynamic program, then you’ve got work to do. Start by actively participating in our SCASL Snapshot Day (coming in April, YOU choose the day) which is open to EVERY SC LIBRARIAN. The information collected there will be turned into advocacy tools for YOU to use. Yes, it will be shared with administrators and legislators, but it needs to be shared collectively in a grass roots way, too, on your own homefront. Shout daily to your school so everyone knows what your program is all about. Nothing speaks louder than the students, teachers, parents and more who daily gain from a dynamic program, and who stand to lose from severe cuts. You are a lone voice. Make it a collective voice. Make it the voice of the program heard loud and clear. We cannot afford anything less.
This is a special note to the actual author of the above shared/removed post. If you would like for me to take your orignal post down, just email me at cathyjonelson -at- gmail. It is painful for me as an outsider to read of your situation, and I merely want to draw attention so it may help others. I think you were so brave for posting this, and I applaud your attempt to bring on board support in the form of stakeholders who stand to to lose the quality program that is apparently offered now. If you took this post down due to second thoughts, that’s okay. I certainly would have been too chicken to post in the first place (I’m such a coward.) If it is gone due to a higher authority’s demand, then PLEASE allow me to wave this banner drumming up support and reminding TL’s around no one is safe. It is the perfect model, in my opinion, of an authentic reaction. I pray the target audience will respond with demands to, in the least, help your school offer the status quo in your programming. Nothing less is acceptable. Your school community will suffer greatly if this position cannot be saved.