Duval County Public Schools determined this year that school libraries just aren’t that important.
Sandalwood – and nearly every Duval high school – was not budgeted a librarian this year (see the May 2013 DCPS Board Meeting minutes to confirm my statement). A shocking number of low-income kids don’t own a computer, and the Public Library is inaccessible for most; their school library is their only option for research. It is misguided to deem libraries expendable.
Along these lines, I think some of us have lost perspective on Education and are holding the wrong people accountable for the wrong things. Most problems in Education don’t arise from classrooms, but from well-meaning policymakers who are not experts in Education. If we insist on holding Districts and Administrators accountable for quantitative statistics, I believe it should be for things that directly affect classroom instruction, such as:
- Accuracy of student head-count estimates. For example, Sandalwood has always had 3000-3300 students. This year, DCPS budgeted for 2200. Our final head-count was 3000 students, just like previous years. As a result, First Coast News responded to parent complaints on our 70-80 student math classes that had to be moved to the auditorium. The District hired extra teachers about two months into the year, leading to the next:
- Percentage of students whose education is interrupted by involuntary schedule changes (Indicative of disorganization and/or lack of preparation for the arrival of students).
- Percentage of courses with curriculum fully mapped to a textbook with pacing guides (Teachers’ hunting material takes time away from polishing its presentation to students).
- Percentage of courses, and classes, which issue these textbooks to 100% of students. (Many classes only have class sets of textbooks, meaning students can’t take them home).
- Percentage of classes below 25/50/75/100/etc. students (The system is currently gamed by assigning enormous numbers to small percentages of classes; this should end).
- And yes, the percentage of schools with full-time librarians.
Issues like these have a huge impact on student learning, and are completely out of the hands of individual teachers. So before policymakers blame teachers for the problems in Education, insisting we be “measured” for “Student Growth”, perhaps they should considering putting their own house in order, first so our teachers can teach, and our students can learn.