Across the state we are seeing teacher morale issues because of increased budget cuts. One of the scenarios being tossed around is determining how much money would be saved if a non instructional position was "in charge" of the school media center instead of instructional. I know that there are many districts that split their media/tech folks between two schools. Although faced with numerous challenges, the talented and dedicated educators found ways to be productive and make it work. How many districts have no media support, or reduced services? Are the media/tech positions in your school in jeopardy? Is your school fully staffed or have you seen a decrease in all of the support categories?
These are very precarious times for Library Media Specialists! Especially if you are being split into multiple directions to teach in the classroom and/or take on the additional responsibilities given to us by administrators who are not able or not willing to give us the support staff and/or funding/resources to get the ginormous job of being a Library Media Specialist with so many additional hats to wear.
I for one am one of those over-worked, under-appreciated, over-whelmed, under-staffed, really under-funded and highly-frustrated Library Media Specialists who wants to more with less but simply cannot. The students are truly the punished in this climate. My school is now a K-8 school with two physical campuses blocks apart from each other. That means two libraries but still only ONE professional to staff it. No staff, no clerks, very little volunteers to assist. My principal jokes that she needs a "zipline" to help her go back and forth between the two campuses of our school. I remind her all the time that she better save room on that "zipline" for me since that is EXACTLY what I do in order to serve our students. Administrators often forget the work we do IS important and can be dramatically affected by all of these obstacles and road blocks.
On top of all of this, we have the current economic crisis, which has impacted many of us, myself included. After two years, my husband finally found a job. He makes less than teachers do, but he is happy and I am over-the-top happy that he is employed again. The personal burdens we experience also impact our professional lives at our schools and with the work we do with our students.
I am very grateful to still be employed and teaching at a school community that I love. Not everyone is so lucky. Miami-Dade County has seen many Library Media Specialists tearfully leave their libraries as they are reassigned to a classroom position while that library is locked up with no access for students, let alone with any information literacy instruction. Why does this happen to the most valuable and most treasured learning environment in any school? Beats me.
What to do? Get involved with your local union. I am. Seek and demand support in that avenue to get the respect you deserve. Contact your local and state elected officials. I do. Make them aware of the challenges you face in the trenches of education. Be vocal in these forums like Thinkfinity and Edmodo where teachers can have discussions and voice their concerns and commiserate with one another.
Remember, we never got into education for the money... in one way or another, we all want to help our students become life-long learners. We care about the students... never be afraid of sticking up for them when you stick up for what you do that impacts their learning success!
Sorry for the long rant... Thanks to Jeanne for starting the discussion. Happy Friday... TGIF!
Having been one of the positions that was split, Jeanne, I know you are aware that Pasco County, Fl has split the Media and Technology Specialists between two school at the elementary level. I am not sure if or how the middle and high schools are split.
Now, there are rumors that Pasco may be in for more change... for the worse. The current split has meant that media & technology specialists have double the work to do in half the time. The school, teachers, and students suffer because by the time the emergencies and duties are taken care of, there is not much time left to work with students or teachers.
I realize that I am preaching the choir, but SERIOUSLY???? The standards for student learning and assessment using technology have steadily increased. The expectations for teacher proficiency with technology has also increased steadily. There is a push for depth of knowledge, content focus, and Common Core Standards. The allocations for media and technology need to be increased, not reduced.
Is anyone listening?
Well, today we got the very sad news that ALL Media Specialists in Pasco County will be cut for next school year. They will attempt to place us back into classrooms based on a second certification area. I came to Pasco County School District because of its reputation for a renowned Media/Technology program. I knew it was in trouble when positions got split two years ago...should have begun looking around at that time. I am more sad about the elimination of our programs than my own loss of a position!
Supposedly, our District Executives looked at other counties in our state...what other counties have eliminated their Media Specialist programs and turned it over to assistants?
There is so much research that shows how test scores are positively affected when there are school librarians/media specialists. I believe our SOS looked at other states, not necessarily just neighboring counties in the state. Last year, several states reported that media positions were being slashed. Some of the reports that are being referenced are dated, (The Impact of School Library Media Centers on Academic Achievement | American Association of School Librarians (AASL)), but the information presented is still true today.
I can't speak for my district but I can for my school. And, yes, this year our Media Center is staffed with a para-professional and no other staff (some student aides). The result, the Media Center is not open before or after school and closed down for a portion of the school day for the staff member's lunch. This also impacts my lab (classroom) since a number of students come to me to do research, work on projects, or print since the Media Center is not always available. I have trouble saying no!
I know the previous Media Specialist asked to be placed back in the classroom, full-time, because she was being pulled in too many directions including teaching an AP Art History class. I do not know if there were no other media specialists available or if placing the para was a district requirement or if it was just a cost-saving measure on our school's part.
Thank you, Bev. For the 2011-2012 school year, in Pasco County, elementary techs and media specialists were split between two elementary schools. Secondary schools lost their media/tech assistants. The situation continues today. However, the short fall of funding for the 2013-2014 school year has rumors flying. Our literacy coach is now split between two schools as well. I have more than one concern., but one I shall voice here is the workload placed on these individuals is unrealistic. Every school expects the same from the employee as if it was their only position.