Without Library Media Specialists, Students Thirsty for Knowledge Will Dehydrate

IMPORTANT UPDATE:

This is the link to the Board Schedule and webcasts: http://www.doe.k12.ga.us/External-Affairs-and-Policy/State-Board-of-Education/Pages/Meetings-Minutes-and-Webcasts.aspx

BTW, If you can go and get a chance to speak with them, Linda Zechmann, the board member from 1st District, worked as a middle school parapro, and Elizabeth Ragsdale, Helen Rice, Wanda Barrs, and Mary Sue Murray either are or were teachers. Brief bios on each representative are linked through the Board home page http://www.doe.k12.ga.us/External-Affairs-and-Policy/State-Board-of-Education/Pages/default.aspx

From a library media specialist in another Metro Atlanta school system:  Thank you for your support of library media centers on your blog as instructional areas in schools. Unfortunately, it seems that DCSS finds library media specialists — and their supporting library media clerks — even more dispensable than classroom teachers. However, I am encouraged by responses teachers and parents made to this DeKalb School Watch post: https://dekalbschoolwatch.wordpress.com/2012/06/25/calling-the-supers-own-words/. Please tell your readers:

RIF’ing DCSS’s library/media specialists (librarians) – and library/media center clerks — is NOT a done deal. The Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) still has to approve DCSS’s request for a waiver to staff media centers below the state minimum requirement. If granted, that waiver would mean school libraries would be closed to students for half (or more) of each school week. This waiver makes NO sense, especially in a failing school system which has ignored independent staffing reviews documenting high personnel overhead in non-student-contact positions.

Your quick response is needed. TODAY! Time is of the essence!

TODAY (7/18/2012) please send an e-mail to the GaDOE board and ask them to NOT approve the DCSS waiver request.

Please write or call Dr. John Barge, Georgia Superintendent of Schools, and Daniel Israel, DeKalb’s state school board representative, about DCSS’s request to RIF library/media center specialists due to “hardship.” The GaDOE board will meet today(7/18/2012) in committees and as a whole on Thursday (7/19/2012) so timeliness is critical.

• Mr. Israel is a product of DeKalb schools, so this should be of particular interest to him; his e-mail is disrael@doe.k12.ga.us

• Dr. Barge may be reached at state.superintendent@doe.k12.ga.us or 404-656-2800.

• Please also copy Judy Serritella, GaDOE’s Coordinator of Library Media Services, jserrite@doe.k12.ga.us, on the e-mails you send to Dr. Barge and Mr. Israel.

If you are uncomfortable about sending an e-mail because you fear having your identity revealed, please send your e-mail to DeKalb School Watch (dekalbschoolwatch@gmail.com) by 2:00 PM today (7/18/2012). We will redact all identifying information and send everything via e-mail to Dr. Barge, Mr. Israel and Ms. Serritella. Or, you may use DSW blog comments to ask the GaDOE to deny the DCSS request. E-mails, however, will carry more impact.

Let’s flood Dr. Barge, Mr. Israel and Ms. Serritella with e-mails, telling them how important library media specialists and library media center clerks are to DeKalb County School System teachers and students.

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Hosting a dialogue among parents, educators and community members focused on improving our schools and providing a quality, equitable education for each of our nearly 100,000 students. ~ "ipsa scientia potestas est" ~ "Knowledge itself is power"
Gallery | This entry was posted in Budget Cuts, DeKalb County [GA] Board of Education, Don McChesney, Donna Edler, Fraud & Corruption, Friends-and-Family, Gene Walker, Jay Cunningham, Library Media Center, Library Media Clerks, Library Media Specialists, Nancy Jester, Pam Speaks, Paul Womack, Superintendent Cheryl Howell Atkinson and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

53 Responses to Without Library Media Specialists, Students Thirsty for Knowledge Will Dehydrate

  1. Amy Parker says:

    How much money could we save if we didn’t start back to school until we didn’t need to run the A/C? J/K but it’s a thought….

  2. Poster says says:

    Emails sent!

  3. Another Dekalb Teacher says:

    Sorry but our MS doesn’t really do much, but scream at the students and complain about all that she does. I feel bad about our students not having access on a full time basis to the center, but I also feel bad for myself earning $6000 less than 5 years ago! Having to pay more for insurance, more paperwork, new curriculum, new teacher evaluating, etc.!!!

  4. Another Dekalb Teacher says:

    Meant teacher evaluation.

  5. GoodLibrarian says:

    @Another Dekalb Teacher, I understand if you do not find your Media Specialist to be effective or inviting. However, we might want to avoid infighting and public comments like this. Here is why:
    1. You really do not want to be locked out of the media center.
    2. You might get a different media specialist or a different school with a media specialist you find useful but if they are fired, you will not get the chance.
    3. Your media center contains resources that are available for you to get access to for you to teach your students. When the media center gets locked up for half the day it will be harder for you to do that.
    4. A lot of money has been invested in the materials in the media center that will go to waste.
    5. Parents frequently come to the media center for this and that. When it is locked up, they will not be allowed in. The waiver requests that NO parents, NO school staff, NOBODY for that matter will be able to staff the libraries when the librarian is not there. They are requesting that the media center be LOCKED!!!!!!!

    Further, as a media specialist, over the years I have seen what I thought were some ineffective teachers that yell at the kids all the time and get nothing accomplished but when they talk about laying off teachers, I do not say “Yes, get rid of 200 teachers, I have seen some that are not doing what I think they should be doing, all they do is yell at the students.”

    The students deserve to have a full program at their schools including a school library. I hope you find yourself working with a librarian you find useful in the future. I do believe what you are saying, some people really need to step up their game and I am sorry that this is your experience.

  6. booksrkool says:

    Email sent

  7. Dr. J says:

    As things go Dekalb Schools is on a suicide mission death by dumb uninformed BOE.

  8. TuckerMom says:

    E-mail sent.

  9. just sad says:

    Email sent

  10. Lane says:

    If the state allows DeKalb to do this, they might set a precedent for other counties. Common Core will place a large value on skills taught in the media center. Students will be the ones to miss out on the opportunities that the media center has to offer. Please send your emails!

  11. justwatch says:

    The state has allowed waivers for things with far great consequences — GA has several counties where students aren’t going to school 180 days, I believe that there are several where school is now 170 days and teachers are paid for only 170 days. It is a mess out there.
    The state doesn’t want to fund schools any more than they already do and there are consequences to that decision.

  12. Augustus says:

    As in any profession, there are good ones and bad ones. I can tell you that the teacher-librarian at my school is fabulous. She teaches, she collaborates with the teachers, she works closely with PTA, a member of the leadership team, promotes school-wide events, provides teacher training in new technologies, is the webmaster, social network master. She stays at the school far beyond her assigned hours and does not have a formal lunch break.
    With the new Common Core Curriculum, these folks are going to be a huge resource for teachers. At least, those who know what they are doing.

  13. Goodteacher says:

    I cannot believe any of this is happening. You cannot close school libraries! This is absolutely insane. I feel as though I am on a runaway train and people are just watching and shaking their heads saying “what a shame”. I just heard our librarian has been RIF’d. I sent my email, but wonder should we be heading down to the meeting tomorrow?

  14. School Librarian says:

    Thanks for letting the state DOE know that you consider your school media centers integral to student success. Part of what is incomprehensible to me is that systems don’t save much money when they cut these state-funded positions. For example, DCSS earns 168.51 media specialist salaries through QBE funding. When they cut below that, if the state demands accountability, they are only saving the county supplement on those salaries. (The independent audit showed 11 excess media specialists, and I haven’t seen that they recommended cutting the clerks..)

    Granted, some schools don’t have enough students to earn a full-time library media specialist. What some other systems have done is either have a media specialist cover two schools or hire half-time media specialists and put a media clerk or media parapro to cover the part of the day the LMS is not there. That is not optimal, but at least the schools still have similar FTE access to media specialists AND the media center doesn’t close.

    Thanks again – and if anyone hears back, please let us know what response you got!

  15. School Librarian says:

    @GoodTeacher: Thank you SO much for caring and for expressing so well my feelings regarding the tendency to say “what a shame” and do no more! State Board meetings begin at 9 a.m. on the second Thursday of the month, in the State Board Room. All scheduled Board meetings are open to the public. If board members see teachers and parents so concerned about the impact closing their school libraries will have on students, the message would be much stronger. (Some consider it self-serving for us to be advocating to keep our jobs.) Thank you again!

  16. School Librarian says:

    Amen! Students (and teachers) do deserve a good media program. Unfortunately, as with teachers, sometimes principals just don’t make the effort to remove those who don’t provide what the students need. And, as with teachers, we as librarians can’t do much about our colleagues who don’t like students or don’t do their jobs. Sometimes parents can make a difference (en masse) with both, but ultimately only your principal can make it happen. (Which tells you something about your principal, if so.) Like GoodLibrarian, I can only hope you get a teacher librarian who shows you how it SHOULD be done and you will say “ah-ha!”

  17. Interested Party says:

    Please share where the public can find specifics for “the meeting tomorrow.” Thank you.

  18. School Librarian says:

    If a waiver is given to a school district to have less student seat time when all non-instructional budget cuts have been made, don’t you see this as different from a large school system CHOOSING to cut instructional programs when they’ve been given an independent road map on non-instructional expenses to cut? It is a mess out there, and I’m afraid if we accept these kind of cuts without comment, the new state funding mechanism may reflect what we accept. Speak now or be willing to accept the consequences of silence later.

  19. School Librarian says:

    THANK YOU so much for caring about your school libraries! (And I totally agree with how scary it is to see the shakes of heads with no action so, of course, no results.) If teachers and parents show up to protest this, it will have much more impact than seeing us as librarians “there to protect our jobs.” Brenda Turner is the Administrative Assistant to the State Board and her phone number is (404) 657-7410. The meeting is scheduled to start at 8am tomorrow and the address is 205 Jesse Hill Jr. Drive SE
    Atlanta, GA 30334. THANK you both – and any others who may be able to attend!

  20. School Librarian says:

    This is the link to the Board Schedule and webcasts: http://www.doe.k12.ga.us/External-Affairs-and-Policy/State-Board-of-Education/Pages/Meetings-Minutes-and-Webcasts.aspx

    BTW, If you can go and get a chance to speak with them, Linda Zechmann, the board member from 1st District, worked as a middle school parapro, and Elizabeth Ragsdale, Helen Rice, Wanda Barrs, and Mary Sue Murray either are or were teachers. Brief bios on each representative are linked through the Board home page http://www.doe.k12.ga.us/External-Affairs-and-Policy/State-Board-of-Education/Pages/default.aspx

  21. Yes! If you can go to today’s State Board of Education meeting, please do go! Taking MARTA is the easiest way because it goes right into the Twin Towers (Georgia State Station) where the GaDOE is located and where the meeting is being held. The Twin Towers are on the East-West MARTA line. If you take the North-South MARTA line, go to 5 Points Station, where the two lines intersect. Get off the train on the North-South line and follow the signs to the East-West line. Twin Towers is 1 stop east of 5 Points Station. From a parking standpoint, it is easier to drive to your nearest MARTA station, park for free there and take MARTA to Twin Towers (Georgia State Station). If you can go to today’s meeting, please do go!

    BTW — in the basement of Twin Towers is a very nice, reasonably priced cafeteria that is open to the public. As well as pretty good cafeteria food, you will also find fast food vendors such as Chick-Fil-A.

  22. Teacher/Parent says:

    I would like to know what we tell our students when they ask, “Can we go to the Library?”.

  23. Wondering in DeKalb says:

    Jim M. and Denise M., what are your thoughts on the media specialists being RIF’d?

  24. School Librarian says:

    Maybe a good question to ask your board member is what your response should be to the student when you say, “No, sorry, it’s closed this afternoon.” and the student asks, “But why?”

  25. September says:

    School Librarian is absolutely correct. A school that is smaller than base size (450 students in an elementary school) is staffed with a half-time librarian, but that media center must be open throughout the school day and must be staffed by an adult. In DeKalb’s case that should be a trained library clerk. A good library clerk is worth her weight in gold. Trust me, I know.

    There is something else that you might want to think about. The implementation of Success for All in our Title I Schools will require all certified teachers (that includes media specialists, art teachers, music teachers, PE teachers, and more) to teach reading for 90 minutes every day. So, your school might have a full-time media specialist but that media specialist will not be available for the entire school day. Without a library clerk the library will need to be closed while the media specialist is teaching. If you are in a large Title I school and think that you are safe from this cut, you may be surprised when school starts. I haven’t seen the waiver request, but this waiver may allow the libraries to be closed in these schools, too.

    Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to write a letter. It means a lot to know that the community is making an effort to support our school libraries. If you are still thinking about sending a letter, or want to learn more about the benefits of school library programs check out this link. It is easy to read and provides a lot of solid, research-based information. http://www.scholastic.com/content/collateral_resources/pdf/s/slw3_2008.pdf
    If you want to avoid the introductory information, skip to page 5. Again thanks.

  26. John Hope says:

    I wonder if the school principal will have the discretion to staff according to need. What I mean is if they feel a library clerk is needed to support their program, will they have the ability to hire that person?

  27. Teacher K says:

    The Rules Committee meeting now scheduled for tomorrow DOES NOT have the DeKalb request for a waiver listed. Here is the link to the meeting home page where you can see the agenda. https://eboard.eboardsolutions.com/Meetings/ViewMeetingOrder.aspx?S=1262&MID=25203 Several other districts have requests to waive board rules, two of them are reducing their Superintendents to less than full time. They are all small districts.

  28. Green Shade says:

    Here’s what I sent them.

    Please do not grant the media specialist waiver to DCSS.

    As the state curriculum shifts from GPS to common core, the media center’s role in the school will become even more integral. Common Core standards require students to conduct both brief and in-depth research projects, which is an excellent way to prepare for college. Without a school media center, how will these students complete their research assignments?

    Furthermore, the new Common Core standards recommend that high school students read 50% fiction and 50% informational texts in 9th and 10th grade and 30% fiction and 70% informational in 11th and 12th grade. The state has contracted teachers to write wonderful and detailed unit plans for Common Core (I personally wrote 3 units for the state) that require the use of new informational resources that schools cannot afford to buy in bulk. However, many of these resources are available online or through databases. This is where the media center will play an integral role.

    Yes, the public library can fulfill some of the roles of a school media center. However, it is the students who lack transportation or parental involvement, students who arguably need the most support, who will suffer is school media centers reduce their staff and their hours.

    Students must have access to a school media center to meet the standards set by Common Core and to prepare for college.

    Thank you for your time.

  29. Dura lex sed lex says:

    What beautiful people our teachers are! How poorly they get treated!

    Even as we blog on this site yesterday, today, and tomorrow, many are already hard at work cleaning their class rooms, preparing material for their students, and planning lessons. Every week until August 7, their number will grow.

    All the while an ingrate county administration and apathetic county electorate is taking away from them!

    Sadly, these wonderful teachers, by their benevolence and docility, are inviting more pain and suffering unto themselves.

    If I were a teacher, I would report no earlier than August 7. I would work 7:00AM to 4;00PM on Tuesday to Friday.

  30. Worried says:

    The school system should save the media specialist positions and take the State Media Allotment which is over a million dollars. Does the Dr. Atkinson know she can spend this where she sees fit.

  31. What Next says:

    I believe DeKalb Co kids are only going to school for 177 days next year.

  32. teacher/taxpayer says:

    Dura Lex: Nice fantasy, but a recipe for disaster!
    I always have gone in during late July so I could prepare my room at my own pace. But this year, at my school, we will have so much training that there will be absolutely no time to get our rooms ready during pre-planning week.
    For our own mental health, we have to go in to set up an organized room and carefully prepare plans.
    Otherwise, the children will sense our confusion and we will not be in control. If a teacher cannot establish control the first week, the rest of the year will be a disaster. With all the other ingedients already in place for this year’s nightmare, a teacher would be crazy to allow students into a room that is not ready for them.
    Also, I have a great principal. I do not want to show her less support than she deserves. Taking the kind of stand you recommend would not hurt the ones at the top who deserve to be hurt. it would hurt my students, their parents, my principal, my school, and me.

  33. Dura lex sed lex says:

    @teacher & taxpayer

    I agree with you. But if teachers in Georgia keep doing this for 5 consecutive years while their income are reduced to benefit the county administrators, I don’t think salaries, benefits, and quality of teaching will improve.

    A catastrophic opening week at every school would put the board and super on notice to manage better and, consequently, be better for the students in the long run.

  34. teacher/taxpayer says:

    Please know I am not being critical of your idea. I wish we could do something to get noticed. You are right that we teachers have been treated terribly the last five years, but at least we are still sane even if we have less money.

    If the first week is a catastrophe, I do not think our medical coverage would be enough to provide the drugs and psychiatric care that teachers would need to survive the remaining 35 weeks of school! Paxel anyone?

    Sadly, if the top dogs aren’t already motivated to manage better, nothing we lowly ones say or do will make them do it. Except voting them out of office.

  35. Concerned Teacher says:

    This was posted on Get Schooled blog and I thought it was worth reposting here.
    Ms. March sent out this memo regarding open house (registration) and curriculum nights.

    To: All Principals
    From: Kendra March, Deputy Superintendent, School Leadership and Operational Support
    Through: Dr. Cheryl L. H. Atkinson, Superintendent
    Subject: Open House/Curriculum Night
    Date: July 17, 2012

    In an effort to enhance parental involvement, the DCSD will hold an Open House and a Curriculum Night. The Open House is a time for students to meet their teacher(s) and visit their classroom(s). In addition, this will be a time for parents to sign up for various school related jobs/responsibilities such as PTA, Room Mother/Father, etc.

    Curriculum Night is a time for schools to create their own curriculum night presentation. Some suggested topics should include: CCGPS, Safe School process, Success for All overview (SFA schools only), Parental Involvement activities, Parent-Teacher Conferences dates and other pertinent school information related to improving student achievement.

    The Open House has been designated as follows:

    Open House Wednesday, August 8, 2012 2:30 – 4:30 pm 9th Graders and New Students Only
    4:30 – 6:30 pm High School Returning Students

    Open House Thursday, August 9, 2012 4:30 – 6:30pm Middle School

    Open House Friday, August 10, 2012 4:30 – 6:30 pm Elementary School

    Curriculum Nights will be the month of September. Please adhere to the schedule below:

    Elementary School Curriculum Night 1st Week in the month of September

    Middle School Curriculum Night 2nd Week in the month of September

    High School Curriculum Night 3rd Week in the month of September

    Kendra D. March
    Deputy Superintendent, School Leadership and Operational Support
    DeKalb County School District
    1701 Mountain Industrial Blvd
    Stone Mountain, GA 30083
    678 676-0720 office
    678-676-0193 fax
    Kendra_March@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us

    Elementary school open house on the Friday night before school starts on Monday! Are they crazy?!?!

  36. Don't Ignore Social Media says:

    Why not use social media too?
    Twitter: @DrJohnBarge
    Facebook:
    “Like” his page and get some conversations started.
    http://www.facebook.com/pages/John-Barge/198911930237561

    Let’s get some real buzz going about the whole DCSD situation, folks!

  37. Wow! What a really great idea! Thank you!

  38. Dekalb School Board for Dummies says:

    DSW, I would like to thank you for this blog; it has truly been therapeutic to my sanity. Moving along, I have witnessed DeKalb’s bloat, promotion of friends and family, and retaliation of employees who do not dance to their beat for 14 years. I heard about this blog several years ago, and have been hooked (Paxel please) ever since. You have given a voice to the voiceless, and hope to the hopeless. Moving on, I cleaned my storage closet yesterday, and came across a 2008 paystub. I was stunned when I compared my old paystub with my current one. I am also speechless at the fact that Francis Edwards’ daughter and many others, make more money than most teachers I know; many of these people lack a teaching certificate and educational experience, yet they were given tax payer money to walk around and look important. With that said, I don’t know how BOE members think they will retain good teachers in the district. They fooled me once with giving contracts out so late in the year. I promise you-it won’t happen again. I work for a living, and right now, Dekalb’s salary cannot compare with others in the area, so why should I stay here???…for the students??? Well, I am sure that I will meet new students elsewhere. Teachers have been hit with furlough days, TRS, mil increase (if they own a home in DeKalb), insurance increase, class size increase, etc. I have heard others say that I should be glad to have a job. Well, right about now, I would be “GLAD” to have a job in APS, Cobb, Fultonl Gwinnett, Henry, Rockdale (get the picture). My administrators have said that its about the students, but they’d shoot themselves if they had to go back into the classroom. Further, I have witnessed good teachers be retaliated against, given unwarranted NIs on evaluations, be placed on PDPs, be unlawfully fired (many of these were on the list that Tyson and Lewis requested in order to balance the budget), etc. I have seen good teachers bullied, and bad teachers praised. I am sure that the Friends and Family exist in other districts, but it is rampant in this district. There are too many Friends and Family to name or list. There seems to be no other way to beat these people other than at the polls. When is Jay, Eugene, Donna, Sarah up for re-election? These people are voting to get rid of teachers and their areas need teachers the most. We need to get some viable candidates to challenge these people, and walk the streets and go from door to door to get hem out of there, but there is that Bonker’s Factor that Maureen talked about. Anyway, I would just love to put old Eugene, Jay, and Sarah into permanent retirement. We need to get the DCSD teachers who live and vote in this district to get onboard with this. When furlough days have reached 10-15 days, then and only then, will those who are in the trenches with students everyday, take a viable stance against this madness. Me, I am getting out before it gets any worse. Good night all!!!

  39. Thanks for the posting DeKalb School Board For Dummies! We are so glad to help in any way.

    FWIW, the people we are voting on in districts 2 ,4, 6 and 8 will only serve 2 years (or at least that’s what the story is right now. We generally have no faith in what is going on with the election cycles.) But at any rate, as it stands now – it’s two years and then the legislature will reduce the board to 7 members and the voters will vote for all 7 after the two years. Which means that going forward, we will have our entire board up for reelection in 4 year cycles – two years off from the major Presidential elections. We’re not sure if this plan will work out either! Like I said, no faith. But that’s what’s happening.

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