LIS Trends

School Librarians and Budget Cuts

with 5 comments

A current trend in education budgets are the large cuts that have caused schools to lay off one of their most precious commodities: School Librarians. In a 2011 New York Times article, Frederick Santos sheds light on schools, from Oregon to New York City, that have been forced to pick between full- time teachers who work with children all day and the support staff which include their librarians. “In New York…school officials said they had little choice but to eliminate librarians, having already reduced administrative staff, frozen wages, shed extracurricular activities and trimmed spending on supplies.” (Santos, 2011).  Some might think this is just another frivolous job lost in today’s economy. I mean they still have teachers right? Of course teachers are the most essential part of our schools, and they do pretty amazing things to educate America’s students, but according to a new study done by the RSL Research group out of Colorado, school librarians are the key to more successful students. The Education Law Center hired these researchers to examine the 2010-11 Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) tests in Reading and Writing for students in grades 3-11, and track outcomes for students based on five school library factors: staffing, collections, digital resources and technology infrastructure, library access, and funding. (Education Law Center, 2012) Here are the results from the Education Law Center’s Press Release:

• Students who have access to a full-time, certified librarian scored higher on the PSSA Reading Test than those students who do not have such access.       This finding is true for all students, regardless of their socio-economic, racial/ethnic, and/or disability status.

• For several student groups that tend to experience achievement gaps—economically disadvantaged, Hispanic, Black, and those with IEPs (Individualized Education Programs)—Reading and Writing results are markedly better when those students attend a school with a librarian and library support staff, according to the research. In fact, they benefit more proportionally than the general student population.

The press release goes on to express interest in research that is happening in other states,  and how the positive results are an indication that getting rid of school librarians is indeed no way to help our students progress. In fact, in these times of budget cuts and layoffs it is essential that education not be the hardest hit. Schools with more resources for their students, including an on staff librarian,  are essential for our future. The Education Law Center is just one of many state organizations trying to save our public education system, and saving our school librarians is a very good way to do that. I encourage you to find out how school librarians are being affected in your state, and what you can do to help save them if their jobs are in danger.

Resources

Education Law Center. (2012). New PA study shows full-time school librarian boosts student achievement [press release]. Retrieved from http://www.elc-pa.org/schoollibraryresearch_alert.html

Santos, F. (2011, June 24). In lean times, schools squeeze out librarians. New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/25/nyregion/schools-eliminating-librarians-as-budgets-shrink.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

 

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Written by liskris

November 6, 2012 at 9:27 am

Posted in Uncategorized

5 Responses

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  1. This is so true and so disheartening. Today I went to University of Hawaii Manoa Campus to tour their Hamilton Library and after seeing all of the things they had to offer there were also so many things that they can not due to lack of funding and not enough staff to complete the projects. All schools want to keep their extracurricular activities, but sports and arts are always the first to go and then undoubtedly is the support staff and sometimes that means librarians. Its so unfortunate that people who can help students learn how to find the right information are being cut. Yes, technology and the internet is great, but not having people able to show students how to use and find the right information is just as bad as them not knowing the information at all.

    alysongamache

    November 15, 2012 at 10:42 pm

    • I agree. I think there is a major disconnect with the general public and lawmakers when it comes to librarians and the contributions they make to our children. In the town that I grew up in, all librarians have been cut from their jobs (school and other institutions) and the public library (mostly made up of children’s books) is ran by volunteers only a couple hours a week.

      liskris

      November 18, 2012 at 5:57 pm

  2. First I just want to acknowledge that teachers are very important. They are the ones who educate the children in things like math, history, science, etc. But, I agree that the general public seems to have difficulty understanding that librarians are also teachers. They educate the children concerning research, sources, and prepare them how to perform research on their own. I think the disconnect is that people see libraries as free bookstores and why would schools need to teach children how to use these buildings? I also think that school administrations may also be guilty of not fully understanding the benefit and need for librarians in the schools. If the administration understood the mission of the school librarian, I think that they would begin including the librarian in the “teacher bracket” and not be so quick to cut their resources and jobs.

    TiffanyC

    November 18, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    • Teachers are obviously the backbone of our schools. They do amazing things for our children, but you are correct, like I said in the comment above, people do not realize librarian’s worth. There is that saying “it takes a village to raise a child,” I think we can apply that here to our schools. “it takes a village of teachers and their ‘support staff’ to educate our children.” We would all be better for the added education.

      liskris

      November 18, 2012 at 6:02 pm

  3. I admit I don’t know too much about school librarianship, but I did use to be an English teacher who used the ESL library where I worked extensively when I was teaching English. I would have been completely overwhelmed without having a carefully organized collection to gather researched reading materials from for my students. I couldn’t imagine having to do all the research and material gathering myself while trying to write lesson plans and teach students of all ages (especially without the proper training). The value of a librarian isn’t as easy to measure as the value of a teacher is (which is probably the biggest reason school librarians are among the first to get laid off), but I’m sure that teachers know the value of their school librarians. As a teacher, if I knew my librarian’s job was in trouble I would have tried to get the other teachers to agree to take a small cut from our paychecks just to keep the librarian around considering the important services they provide to the teachers and students in the school.

    Isidoro Alastra

    November 23, 2012 at 12:12 pm


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