Picture from "The Library Dragon" by Carmen Agra Deedy, illustrations by Michael P. White

"Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist.
Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed."
- G. K. Chesterton

Thursday, July 1, 2010

RIFFED - April 8th, 2010

I was RIFFED on the Thursday following Spring Break.  The following weekend I came upon an article about the cuts and immediently wrote a response to the author.  Below is a copy of my letter because I think it captures the momment very well.  I was more than a bit angry....

I read your article "20 Southern Hancock teachers may be cut" in the Indiana Economic Digest this weekend . As I am one of the 20 being cut I would like to comment. Mr. Halick did NOT meet with us individually. At the High School he met with all 6 of us at the same time. Let me tell you, there is a big difference between laying off an English or Math teacher who has only been in our school system a couple years and someone like myself who is in their 23rd year. In my case, as well as with the Health/PE teacher who has been at NPHS 9 years, our jobs are being cut because this administration does not see the value in what we do. These cuts will have a big impact on both of our programs despite what Mr. Halik says.

Your article paints a very sympathetic picture of Mr. Halik and how difficult cutting all these teacher is for him, but I have a feeling that it's much more difficult for those of us who have been cut. Why did you not attempt to interview any of us? Here's my story in a nut shell. I loved my job as NPHS media specialist and I always thought I'd be at NPHS until I retired. I knew that the administration didn't particularly understand or value what I did, but that didn't matter because I knew the staff and students did. I have tried not to just buy books to fill the media center's shelves, but instead to buy just the right books to fill student and staff needs. Very rarely has a student asked me for information on a topic that I couldn't find what they needed in at least one book in our collection. I am very proud of the collection I have built over that past 23 years. It makes me sad to think that next year there will be no media specialist here to continue to purchase and/or find just the right books for our students and staff.

"Kids don't use books anymore" you might say but you would be wrong. In the past 20 years, circulation of print material at the high school media center has tripled. Harry Potter and vampire novels have certainly helped but so has informed teachers who require their students to look beyond Google when doing research. Our students are experiencing an information overload and they need all the help they can get sifting through it. Last year I worked with the majority of the English classes to help teach students how to use more scholarly resources on the Internet such as INSPIRE. I also showed students how to find books in the media center. You would be amazed at the number of teenagers who don't know how to look up a book in an online card catalog or have forgotten the Dewey Decimal System.

With 23 years of experience and our current economic state, chances are pretty slim that I will ever work in a school media center again. My head is packed full of years of information I'd love to continue to share with young people - books to recommend, search strategies to try, best and worst research paper topics, the REAL name of Dr. Seuss - but my career in education is now over. I wonder if Mr. Halik took any of this into consideration? I doubt it.

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