“In the basement of the California Mart building in downtown Los Angeles, one can find a series of bright, cavernous rooms buzzing with the sound of the fluorescent panels that hang from a ceiling of exposed ducts and wiring,” writes a school media specialist who identifies herself online as Mizz Murphy.
“… This is where teachers come to defend their qualifications in front of a judge in the hopes that someone in the legal system will understand what the students of this city really need. From what I’ve seen in the last two days, that just doesn’t seem likely.”
Thus begins a riveting first-person account of a series of hearings conducted this month by the Los Angeles Unified School District to determine whether school librarians are qualified to remain with the district as classroom teachers.
LAUSD has issued pink slips to more than 7,000 district employees as part of a Reduction in Force (RIF) effort to close a looming budget gap. Dozens of those employees are school librarians, whose only chance of keeping their job is to prove they’re qualified to be transferred to classroom teaching.
One of these librarians, Mizz Murphy, wrote a May 9 blog post describing the process, in which—if her story is accurate—school librarians were subjected to rigorous questioning from LAUSD lawyers intended to prove they aren’t qualified to teach.
A case in point, according to the blog post, was this exchange between a lawyer for the district and a teacher librarian (TL), which seemed designed to catch the TL in a contradiction:
LAUSD: How much of your school day would you say you spend teaching?
TL: I teach all day long.
LAUSD: You teach all day?
LAUSD: Do you ever catalog books?
LAUSD: Are you teaching while you are cataloging books?
TL: (pause) No.
LAUSD: Do you ever write purchase orders for library materials?
LAUSD: Are you teaching while writing these purchase orders?