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LAUSD reopening libraries after recession closings

More than 200 Los Angeles Unified School District elementary school libraries have reopened in just two months, according to district officials.

Recession-era budget cuts had left many libraries without staffing. The cuts persisted even when the economy began to improve: a year ago half of the district's 650,000 students were still without a librarian or library aide

From LAUSD reopening libraries after recession closings | 89.3 KPCC

Philadelphia's Librarian Dilemma - Pacific Standard

Philadelphia—a city whose school system ranks among the nation's worst—has a major reading problem on its hands. On Sunday, Philadelphia Inquirer's Kristen Graham reported that the city’s school librarian population has dropped by an astonishing 94 percent since 1991. Twenty-four years ago, there were 176 certified librarians throughout the city’s 218 schools—there are now 11. This comes on the heels of the city's 2013 closure of its top schools’ libraries—victims to an unmerciful budget crisis.

From Philadelphia's Librarian Dilemma - Pacific Standard

School Librarians, a Disappearing Breed in Philadelphia

Philly.com reports:

When Laureal Robinson became Spring Garden's principal five years ago, she had a goal in mind: to reopen the school library with a certified librarian.

"We had to adopt a back-to-basics approach," Robinson said. "We had to make it as easy as possible for children to get books in their hands."

Spring Garden's budget is just as tight as every other school's in the Philadelphia School District - it has no full-time counselor or nurse - but Robinson made reopening a library a priority. For five years she planned, using community partnerships to bring in books. In September, she hired a three-day-a-week librarian.

"Having a librarian," the principal said, "just helps to support what's going on in the classroom, with teachers. I just felt like it was a necessity. It would be remiss not to have a library."

Robinson is bucking a trend. In 1991, there were 176 certified librarians in city schools. Now there are 11 - for 218 schools.

School libraries shelve tradition to create new learning spaces

You might think technology would spell the end of books and libraries. But many schools have embraced the digital revolution and built innovative spaces that foster a love of literature

http://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/2015/jan/08/school-libraries-books-students-techn...

Not Nearly Enough School Librarians in Philadelphia

In 1991, there were 176 certified librarians in Philadelphia public schools. This year there are 11 and only five are known to be actually doing what they were trained to do. Five librarians for the nation's eighth-largest school district.

Leaving Philadelphia's public school libraries without professional staffing is a grave mistake. It will have consequences for the students for the rest of their lives. Study after study shows a clear link between school libraries staffed by certified librarians and student achievement.

Read more in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

More Librarians Required in NYC Middle and High Schools

The New York City Department of Education must stop violating rules on the minimum number of librarians required at city high schools, state education Commissioner John B. King Jr. has decided.

The United Federation of Teachers had appealed to the commissioner several times in recent years to force the city to comply with regulations spelling out how many librarians are necessary, depending on enrollment. City school officials argued last year that fewer were needed because of advancements in technology and the ability of small schools to share them.

In a decision signed Sept. 15, Mr. King said the union didn't have standing to argue on behalf of students deprived of librarians' help, but the city must comply with the staffing minimums.

A spokeswoman for the city education department said it would work on a plan to address the issue, noting that school libraries have "tremendous value." Article from The Wall Street Journal.

Which Version of American History to Teach Texas High Schoolers?

From ABC News:

Debates over academic curriculum and textbooks have for years thrust Texas' Board of Education into the national spotlight, sparking battles over issues such as how to teach climate change and natural selection. In 2010, while approving the history curriculum standards that this year's round of new books are supposed to follow, conservatives on the board required that students evaluate whether the United Nations undermines U.S. sovereignty and study the Congressional GOP's 1994 Contract with America.

This long-running ideological dispute over what gets taught in Texas classrooms flared anew over proposed history textbooks Tuesday, with academics decrying lessons they said exaggerate the importance of Christian values on the nation's Founding Fathers while conservatives complained of anti-American, pro-Islam biases.

The Board of Education will approve new history textbooks for the state's 5-plus million public school students in November. But it heard hours of complaints about 104 proposed books during a sometimes heated public hearing.

Jacqueline Jones, chairwoman of the University of Texas' History Department, said one U.S. history high school book cheerleads for President Ronald Reagan and the significance of America's free enterprise system while glossing over Gov. George Wallace's attempt to block school integration in Alabama. She also pointed to a phrase stating that "the minimum wage remains one of the New Deal's most controversial legacies."

"We do our students a disservice when we scrub history clean of unpleasant truths," Jones said "and when we present an inaccurate view of the past that promotes a simple-minded, ideologically driven point of view."

Librarians Are A Luxury Chicago Public Schools Can't Afford

Headline of a piece on NPR - Librarians Are A Luxury Chicago Public Schools Can't Afford

Excerpt: Two years ago, the Chicago Public Schools budgeted for 454 librarians. Last year, the budget called for 313 librarians, and now that number is down to 254.

With educators facing tough financial choices, having a full-time librarian is becoming something of a luxury in Chicago's more than 600 public schools.

It's not that there's a shortage of librarians in Chicago, and it's not mass layoffs — it's that the librarians are being reassigned.

"The people are there, they're just not staffing the library, they're staffing another classroom," says Megan Cusick, a librarian at Nancy B. Jefferson Alternative School. She says all across the district, certified librarians are being reassigned to English classrooms, world languages or to particular grade levels in elementary schools.

Full piece

Los Angeles School Libraries Suffering

From the LA Times:

L.A. Unified paid for library staff in every school before the recession began in 2008. Today, it provides librarians in high schools but leaves most elementary and middle school campuses to make tough choices on whether to use their limited discretionary funds on library aides, nurses, counselors or other key staff.

Since 2011, the union has alleged that L.A. Unified laid off their members, then illegally allowed parent volunteers, instructional aides and others to do their work at nearly four dozen campuses. The district issued a bulletin last year clarifying that library work can be performed only by those with proper credentials, but the union asserts that violations are still occurring. Without trained staff to make sure books are properly checked out, returned and refiled, she said, thousands have gone missing.

Aiming to stem the problems, the Los Angeles Board of Education recently agreed to form a districtwide task force to seek ways to improve access to school libraries with more dollars, alternative arrangements and collaboration with other public libraries and charitable organizations.

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