Libraries allow children to ask questions about the world and find the answers. And the wonderful thing is that once a child learns to use a library, the doors to learning are always open.
What choice and charter advocates don’t advertise is that most charter schools don’t invest in school libraries with qualified librarians. Students might get a few books in their classroom at their grade level. This is insufficient!
The American Library Association calls libraries “the cornerstone of a democracy.” A child’s freedom to obtain information is jeopardized when they don’t have access to books at their schools. Without information from books, what will the future hold?
How do children learn to read, learn to enjoy what books have to offer, if they have no opportunity to browse a wide collection of books and magazines on topics they find interesting?
Could slowly eliminating libraries and librarians from public schools be a scheme to get parents not to notice that libraries and librarians are missing in charter schools?
My friend Sandy Stenoff who advocates tirelessly for excellent public schools in Florida and beyond, states public schools may have libraries, but the kids can’t use them. There’s always testing. And increasingly, librarians (media specialists) are being cut out of budgets.
Despite knowing that great school libraries with qualified librarians mean higher test scores and student success, corporate school reform has put school libraries and librarians in danger for years! Many librarians have been replaced by parent volunteers, or school libraries close.
Students in poor schools may not have any access to librarians and books, yet children living in poverty need school libraries the most!
Research by Stephen Krashen, Syying Lee, and Jeff McQuillan showed that when students read more and have access to a library their test scores improve! But children must have access to books and reading material. A well-stocked school library provides that access!
Also, many new charters are online, like Summit and Rocketship. The public is led to believe that technology is all students need. Here’s a recent article in the Gates backed Conversation blog April 1, 2019 “Don’t worry, a school library with fewer books and more technology is good for today’s students.”
That same blog posted the following description of this crisis July 13, 2015, “The Calamity of the Disappearing School Libraries” by Debra Kachel. Kachel is professor of the School Library and Information Technologies Program at Mansfield University in Pennsylvania. She has studied the loss of school libraries around the country and writes about this emergency. She says, With the defunding of the Improving Literacy Through School Libraries program in 2011, today there are no federal programs for school library funding. Clearly, the states, taking the lead from the feds, continue to ignore the funding of school libraries.
We realize that students learn best with print, and more than ninety percent of college students prefer print instead of digital.
Removing libraries and qualified librarians as a resource for students to learn and make sense of the world is a serious loss in a free society.
School libraries build character and help students formulate what they want to do with their lives.
Ask how many Florida charter schools have school libraries and school librarians!
Still, this showed up on Twitter:
It was met with swift backlash by @FLBATs.
Obviously @RonDeSantisFL doesn’t know many districts have few (if any) libraries staffed and open fulltime. #FundOurFutureFL
In other words, how do you thank a school librarian in Florida when there are hardly any school librarians left to thank?
According to a 2017 Herald-Tribune report,
In Florida’s 67 school districts, the number of librarians has dropped 27 percent since 2005.
Liberty and Franklin school districts both went from 1 librarian in 2011 to 0 the next year, but only two larger districts — Pasco and Sarasota — have eliminated librarians entirely. Sarasota dropped certified media specialists from elementary schools in 2009 and from middle and high schools in 2013.
Media aides running Sarasota libraries start at $14.60 an hour, just above the hourly wage of a bus driver or air conditioner filter changer.
Florida is not alone. We’ve seen decreases in librarian positions around the nation, cuts happening in the poorest schools where librarians and libraries should be helping to lift children out of poverty!
Still, while we hear about the loss of librarians and even the loss of school libraries in public schools, no one reminds the American people that the choice and charter schools legislators are pushing are substandard.
Students will have no libraries and no librarians.
What kind of freedom and empowerment do you call that?