I received the following email over the weekend, and I felt like it needed immediate attention, so I decided to post it right away.
The Mississippi Department of Education is proposing and has drafted “Revisions to the Process Standards of the Mississippi Public School Accountability Standards”. As the standards are now, public schools are REQUIRED to have licensed librarians (either full- or part-time, depending on enrollment), and administration is REQUIRED to provide adequate funding for libraries.
The newly proposed (drafted) set of standards are changing from “requiring” schools to have a librarian to “recommending” schools have a librarian, and are to set NO BUDGET REQUIREMENTS for the libraries. This is a death knoll for all licensed librarians and an educational deterrent to school children of all ages. The library is the hub of the school!
Please visit the link below and read the proposal. Issues that concern librarians are highlighted in red. Time is of the essence! Please note that the accompanying cover letter indicates that all comments – whether written or by email – must be received by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 18. Please take time to read the proposal and send your comments to the MDE to let them know how this will impact hundreds, if not thousands, of people’s lives.
Even if you do not live in Mississippi PLEASE let my state know how devastating these changes will be for our schools and students.
I am so sad to hear about this, and I hope every one of my readers will take a few minutes to share their thoughts with the Mississippi Department of Education by 5:00 p.m. on February 18.
Click here to access the proposal!
Comments can be emailed to accountability (at) mde.k12.ms.us or faxed to 601-359-1979.
Karen Lyon says
Just an update on how the proposed revisions to library-related standards in Mississippi came down . . .
Staffing Standard - The original language, i.e. '500 students a full-time librarian is REQUIRED' was retained. We fully expect that this issue will be revisited because many districts - primarily smaller ones - want to be able to use one librarian for 2 schools especially where two distinct grade level buildings share the 'same campus;' however, for the near future, the standard remains intact.
Budgeting Standard - Both the $20 per student amount and the wording "for library / instructional materials, supplies and equipment" were removed from the standard which, in effect, did away with the standard as far as libraries go. The department's rationale was that the $20 amount was 'archaic because districts spend much more than that' on a per student basis and that the removal of the library language was because the standard was never 'specifically for libraries but for instructional as well.' Our argument was to strengthen the standard, i.e., raise the $ amount rather than delete it altogether and that the absence of the 'library' language could give districts that did not value libraries an opening to cut existing funding (whatever the amount). We know human nature is that, in the absence of a standard, there is no compelling reason to maintain what the standard required. As a result of the department's decision it is our understanding that monies will be distributed from the district level to schools and 'certified administrators' will determine how the monies will be spent/distributed. So we are at the mercy of an administrator's understanding / perspective of the value of his/her librarian and library program. While we are extremely disappointed with the budget decision it is a call to school librarians to step out of the shadows (and our comfort zones) and become fearless promoters of ourselves and our library programs.
Physical Space Standard - The 'EXEMPTION for high performing schools' language was mistakenly attached to this standard and so the standard which states that 'every school must have a library with an organized collection of materials and equipment that represent a broad range of CURRENT learning media . . . ' remains intact! In fact, we plan to use the 'organized and CURRENT' language of this standard to build the argument that a library budget is NECESSARY to meet the intent of this standard!
We appreciate so much those of you who took the time to send in comments to the Department of Education. Because of your help and the outcry of librarians across our state we were given the opportunity to 'have a public say' about our concerns. We may not have won all of our battles hands down but we certainly didn't concede the war before it started!
Again, many thanks from one librarian to another!