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 Many librarians have been replaced by parent volunteers, or school libraries close.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.
Florida promotes choice and charters, schools accountable to no one, at the grave expense of public education.
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?
peter cerbone jr says
I am a Special Education Teacher. Three Charter schools in five years; two without libraries, one with a partial and minimum use. Charter school financial chicanery, along with administrators that are lacking understanding for special needs students and teachers. Although I can say they understand how to garner that Special Education money and use it elsewhere.
By the way, I just attempted to use you 20% off code with no success at publisher R&L. SpEd teachers like to save nickels and dimes…to spend on our students.
Nancy Bailey says
Thank you for sharing, Peter. That’s sounds like what I’ve been reading.
I will check on that discount and get back to you.
Libraries (computers) 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 (computer), the doors to learning are always open.
~Laura Bush (me)
We don’t need libraries anymore. I am not against libraries, just like I am not against museums. But if we want to learn something about the world today we all turn to the internet.
Nancy Bailey says
While computers are marvelous in all the information we can obtain from them, and I use mine a lot for writing, I cannot see a day when books become obsolete. For children especially, there’s nothing like browsing shelves to find an intriguing book, or to pick a lovely picture book to read.
Then there’s the matter of librarians reading to children. The way adults showcase reading, and how they present it to children during storytime, can make an impact on how a child views reading.
There’s research to show that schools with great school libraries have students who do better on tests.
But thank you for your comment. I think your comment reflects how many Americans feel about libraries. I just disagree that the internet is all we need.
Wow, I did not expect a reply so fast. I actually agree with you, I miss going to the library when I was younger, but I think with Covid, libraries will have an even harder time in the days ahead. For young children nothing can replace a book, even today, however books are cheap, and I find myself buying books instead of going to the library. The last time I was in a library it seemed like everyone was on a computer. I miss the days before the internet, but I do not want to give up having access to the internet. I hope libraries can find a way to survive, but I am not optimistic that they will. I own hundreds of books, sadly most of them are packed away in the attic.
Nancy Bailey says
It will be sad for the general public if libraries close. I still love college libraries and can wander around in them looking at books with the added benefit that I’m not having to study as a student! But I think the best schools need to have libraries and media centers for children and teens. Books and internet. I hope that will be the reality after Covid. I have lots of books too and you’re right, they’re easy to purchase. I finally located a children’s book my mom read to me as a child! I’d been trying to remember the title and I typed in some words I remembered and voila!