Wednesday, October 7, 2009

School Libraries, Special Education, and Charters

Right now my school district (Los Angeles Unified) is turning all of its schools over to Charter Companies which they claim will do a better job than the District itself. The Los Angeles Times claims that Green Dot Charter has done so much for Locke High School, one of the worst in L.A. Here is a letter I wrote to the Times which they won't print:
Re: Cash for the Classrooms (L.A. Times Opinion Piece 9/28/2009)
While Green Dot Charters may provide smaller classes, like all charters they do so because they save money by not providing: 1) Counseling services; 2) Psychological services; 3) Libraries; 4) Special Education; 5) Nursing; 6) Intramural sports; 7) Orchestra; 8) Marching Bands and more. Moreover, Charters generally pick and choose the students they want so they'll test well and be more manageable.

Thirty years in education have taught me that our public schools need to do a better job. But Charters are not the answer. My three year-old granddaughter is receiving excellent services from LAUSD's Special Education. If all schools become charters, who will educate her? Schools will work for our students when money spent on bureaucracy goes directly to the schools. But to achieve this we should not cast aside our special needs students under the Charter mandate of education for the fittest.

Joan Kramer

I am particularly concerned with the loss of nursing, special education, counseling, music, art, and LIBRARIES!!! I have looked at 19 charter organizations and none of them hires a Teacher Librarian. In fact, I'd venture to say none of them has a library!! The head of Green Dot has said "We don't need libraries. Our kids don't read anyway." or something to that effect. This is a pervasive view among many of our administrators as well. I would guess that few of them read anymore, if at all. A teacher came into one of my libraries and sat there telling us that she doesn't read books. She wasn't particularly ashamed of this either. But she did think perhaps she should so she could model this for her students. Isn't this the biggest reason our kids don't read? It's not due to other gadgets and distractions, it's because the adults in their lives do not read!! This is a major loss for our collective good.

CSLA's Conference in November is taking up this most important issue of advocacy. I hope many people can attend and apply some of the good lessons learned by others in Districts where the library personnel have been saved from the chopping block. I fear our Teacher Librarians are in danger in Los Angeles. They have started to cut the elementary paraprofessionals, and I don't think they will stop there. DON'T FORGET TO SIGN UP FOR CLSA CONFERENCE IN ONTARIO NOVEMBER 19-22!!!