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        -----Original Message-----
        This Michael Barone  article on US News & World Reports' website
        provides an interesting view of the state of American education
I appreciate the fact that this article was posted to the list.  I like
to read articles about education even when I don't agree with the
author.  But I would not characterize this as an "interesting view".
This is the same old blame the teachers and the unions argument that has
been used over and over again.  We read on LM_NET and on Callib (the
California library list) how librarians and library programs are being
cut to balance budgets.  Funding at my school for the library was over
$65,000 last year (state, district, and site combined), next year I may
have $11,000-- unless there are more cuts this summer.    We know from
the research that money spent on libraries correlates with higher
student achievement but libraries take the first and deepest cuts.  We
know from the research that kids need lots of books to become readers
but how many books will I be able to buy after I pay for all of our
service and support agreements and database licenses?  We know from the
research that a balanced instructional approach with a well trained
instructor is the best way to teach literacy but schools are being
forced to move towards pre-packaged, teacher-proof programs that place
almost all of the emphasis on phonics (and cost schools an arm and a
leg).  Politicians, left and right, dictate what and how we should
teach.  Every six to ten years a =93new=94 approach is mandated.   And =
test scores don't go up the teachers and the unions are at fault? =20

Lest you think this is a political diatribe, I blame both the
Republicans and the Democrats (our state house and both houses of the
legislature are in the hands of the Democrats).  And I am not always
happy with what the NEA and CTA do in my name.  I am tired though of
reading the uninformed opinions of pundits and politicians making
pronouncements about what is wrong with education.  What type of
research has Mr. Barone done to formulate his opinions about schools
("soft America")?  He makes blanket statements about high school
graduates based on his experiences at McDonalds.  He makes a vague
reference to test scores without providing specifics.  How about the
National Assessment of Educational Progress?  Does he know that those
scores have remained constant or have increased for decades? Even in
"soft" California where our schools have become ever more crowded, more
diverse, and more run-down the scores remain steady.  Even those old
bugaboos "Whole Language" and Bilingual Education didn't bring them
crashing down.  I think that is a testament to teachers who teach so
many students with so few resources, and to librarians who keep programs
running and children reading with little funding or support, and to
library techs and volunteers who keep libraries open in schools that
don't value our programs.

As librarians, teachers of information literacy, we should be skeptics
when we read articles like this.  And we should teach our students to be
skeptics as well.  We should ask for proof when someone tells us what
the problem is.  We should tell Mr. Barone, and other self-appointed
experts, what my high school math teacher told us every day, "show your
Tony Doyle, Librarian
Livingston High School
1617 Main St.
Livingston, CA 95334
"You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture.  Just get
people to stop reading them."-- Ray Bradbury

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