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May 20th, 2011
School librarians targeted in budget crunch
Stakeholders voice support for librarians’ role in teaching 21st century skills
How will students learn key information literacy skills, and how will teachers get help with integrating digital resources into their instruction, without a full-time media specialist in their school?
That’s the question a national school library group has asked the nation’s second largest school system as it prepares to cut dozens of school librarians in a high-profile example of a trend that is occurring nationwide.
The American Association of School Librarians (AASL) has issued an open letter to the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) urging the district to avoid cutting school media specialist positions, which would leave thousands of students and teachers without guidance on digital content, reading lists, and research options, the organization says.
The letter, addressed to LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy, Chief Academic Officer Judy Elliott, Board President Monica Garcia, and all LAUSD board members, expresses concern over LAUSD’s current budget crisis and layoff notices that went to more than 80 school librarians.
“If the elimination moves forward, only 32 of approximately 700 schools will have full-time school librarians and only 10 will have part-time school librarians. This means that approximately 600,000 students will be deprived of one of the most valuable educational resources needed for students to compete in today’s 21st-century workforce—a school librarian,” wrote Roberta Stevens, president of the American Library Association (ALA), and Nancy Everhart, president of AASL.
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In a vetting process that has come to resemble an inquisition, Los Angeles school librarians must prove they are qualified to teach students if they want to save their jobs. (Editor’s note: For a riveting first-hand account of these events, click here.)
School librarians teach students how to use the internet and evaluate content for research purposes. The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards “recognizes them as teachers, and their efforts can be measured to meet standards for professional teaching excellence,” Stevens and Everhart wrote.