Are school librarians going way of the milkman?

Nov 8, 2015 by

Principals are given flexibility over whether to keep media specialists or use the position differently

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools has been shedding school librarians faster than any district in North Carolina over the past five years, and there’s a debate going on about whether that makes a difference for students.

This year, 31 of the district’s 168 schools have libraries led by staffers other than media specialists, who have master’s degrees and specialized training to run libraries.

Ruby Jones, a school board member and retired teacher, calls that “mind-boggling” in a district that names literacy as its top priority. She says it’s crucial to bring back media specialists in high-poverty schools where few students can read at grade level.

“Many homes of high poverty do not have one piece of literature in their homes,” Jones said. “These same students do not have transportation to a public library. They must experience the richness of a school media center to know the value.”

Superintendent Ann Clark says that media specialists have “tremendous value” and that school libraries remain a vital part of each school. But as literacy – digital and print – permeates the entire school day, she says she’s willing to give principals flexibility to decide what combination of staffing and credentials works best for their schools. In some cases, that means libraries are run by assistants, technology teachers or testing specialists.

Source: Are school librarians going way of the milkman? | The Charlotte Observer

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