Friday, February 5, 2010
A Vital Instrument
I am a teacher/librarian. That is how I identify myself, define myself. Although I have retired from daily teaching duties, I remain interested in, and involved with, education issues.
It is no secret that our economy continues to operate in crisis mode. Difficult decisions are being made regarding taxes and budgets. Faced with declining aid monies and rising costs, school districts are being forced to cut programs and reduce staffing.
The Ohio Research Study, conducted in 2002-2003 by Dr. Ross J. Todd and Dr. Carol C. Kuhlthau, looked at 39 effective school libraries across Ohio. 99.44% of the sample (13,050 students) indicated that the school library and its services, including roles of school librarians, have helped them in some way, regardless of how much, with their learning.
In 2007-2008 by Dr. Ruth V. Small's The Impact of New York's School Libraries on Student Achievement and Motivation: Phase I, detailed how the learning and literacy support, instructional collaboration, technology use, and service to students with special needs provided by certified elementary library media specialists positively impacted student achievement.
By definition, teacher/librarians are not considered "highly qualified" because they don't teach a "core" subject. I would suggest that a strong, vibrant literacy and information technology program is THE core subject, since it impacts every curricular area. A library professional should be the common denominator in a school, delivering a unifying skill set, speaking a universal language, interacting with every student and staff member.
Whether helping a student select appropriate recreational reading material, guiding a class through a research project, or assisting a colleague with a technology-infused lesson, the teacher/librarian is involved with learners.
Our president and the governor of my state (along with numerous other governors) have proposed cutting direct aid to school libraries. Read the eloquent postings by Buffy Hamilton and Cathy Nelson. Consider the studies I've cited and other research regarding the link between libraries and learning.
Make your voice heard, in defense of our libraries.
"The school library functions as a vital instrument in the educational process, not as a separate entity isolated from the total school program, but involved in the teaching and learning process." -International Association of School Librarianship