The Big Plot Twist That Doomed San Diego’s School Libraries

The Big Plot Twist That Doomed San Diego’s School Libraries

Photo by Sam Hodgson

Students peruse books inside the Hawthorne Elementary library.

San Diego’s school libraries will be open at least one day a week next school year. That’s actually the good news.

Some schools’ libraries have been closed for years. Even worse: Many of the libraries sitting empty are gleaming new facilities filled with comfy sofas, rows of computers and shelved full of books.

Christie Ritter on SchoolsA guaranteed day each week is at least a step in the right direction.

A few months ago, I asked my fifth-grader if he’d been to his school library lately. He said the last time he remembered going was in third grade. I spoke to his principal, Kimberly Lopez at Hawthorne Elementary School in Clairemont, and she said the school has not employed a library technician or assistant, much less a higher-paid librarian, for two years. If children want to check out books from the school library, the only staff member authorized to do it is a school clerk. But she’s got other work to do, so her time in the library is limited.

Photo by Sam Hodgson

Photo by Sam Hodgson

Students read inside the library at Hawthorne Elementary.

Hawthorne is not the only school in this predicament. Across the district, 44 school libraries are unstaffed, and in some cases, have been dark for years. Many more are open only a few hours a week.

How did things get to this point?

When the economic crisis hit in 2008, the San Diego Unified School District had just finished building or remodeling 102 school libraries: 76 at elementary schools, 13 at middle schools, two for charter schools and 10 at high schools.

The building boom was funded by 1998′s Proposition MM, a $1.51 billion bond that funded construction across the San Diego Unified School District. The libraries were built between 2001 and 2006, said Lee Dulgeroff, the district’s executive director of facilities, planning and construction.

These sleek new libraries cost $79.6 million, according to materials obtained by VOSD through a public records request. But soon after some of the ribbon-cutting ceremonies, many libraries went dark. Contractual restrictions – on top of funding cuts and layoffs – contributed to the closings.

Why Parents Can’t Fill the Gaps

In 2008, principals were forced to choose between librarians and health assistants, counselors and attendance clerks – all considered crucial positions up till then.

“That was the beginning of school-based budgeting,” said Chris Juarez, principal of Curie Elementary in University City. “We were given a blank slate and told ‘You build it,’ so we had to find our most basic priorities.”

Juarez even ran a marathon in April 2008 and collected pledges to raise money to keep Curie’s library staffed that fall.

But lots of other schools decided cutting library staff was the least-terrible option.

Faced with the prospect of their libraries closing, parents across San Diego volunteered to staff the libraries.

That was impossible, though, thanks to language in the school district’s contract with the California School Employees Association, which represents library technicians and assistants. The rule says: “The district may accept the donation of work providing that it does not result in the layoff, reduction or replacement of bargaining unit employees or positions.”

Schools have limited options when funding for a specific job is cut or if a library worker quits. The contract with library assistants prevents other school employees or volunteers from doing their job.

The same rule also prevented PTAs from going outside of the district’s human resources department to staff their school library. Library workers have to come from a list of prequalified candidates from the district, and the hiring process can take months.

‘It’s Inequitable’

“To me clearly, the taxpayers have spoken, saying they wanted libraries,” said Elaine Sabetti, a library tech at Lewis Middle School. “Parents are saying that they want them, but the district isn’t finding it important. In no way is one day a week enough, to me it’s inequitable, because you have other schools that are open full time.”

Indeed, the impact across the district has been uneven. School leaders had some leeway in deciding what staff positions to fund and which to cut. Some schools never had to close their libraries at all; others’ libraries have hardly been open.

Some schools had another option. Schools like Silver Gate, Sunset View and La Jolla Elementary kept their libraries staffed at least in part by using school foundation money to pay a district library worker. School foundations, or parent-fundraising groups, funnel millions of dollars into San Diego Unified schools each year, and the money can be used to bolster certain programs or to keep staff members around.

Donna Tripi, principal of La Jolla Elementary, said the decision to fund library staff is driven by the community. “When you have a foundation, it can support some of the needs you have, it’s helpful. When you have Title 1 money, that’s other discretionary money you can use for student achievement. It’s the priorities of the site and what they feel like their goals are. We’ve always felt a library was very important.”

Title I funds, which go to schools with a high percentage of low-income students, can also be used toward library staff.

Suzy Reid, mother of a first grader and a third grader at Ocean Beach Elementary – where the library is open one day a week – said fighting for library access has been a struggle. She called Ocean Beach Elementary an “in-betweener” school, because it doesn’t have a foundation to support extras like a library worker, but it also isn’t one of the poorest schools in the district, so it doesn’t get much Title 1 federal funding either.

“The librarian is inundated and she has no time to spend with these children.  … We have meetings in the library, that’s the most use it gets,” Reid said. “We sit there surrounded by all those great books and technology, but nobody gets to use it.”

Common Core

Many parents and educators think the need for functioning school libraries is greater than ever, thanks to the new Common Core standards being rolled out at schools across the country.

Photo by Sam Hodgson

Photo by Sam Hodgson

A view of the library at Hawthorne Elementary.

Barbara Flannery, a San Diego High School parent, said she’s concerned that the move to the Common Core curriculum will only make the need for access to research materials greater, and exacerbate the gap between students who have Internet access at home and those who don’t.

Barbara Baron, program manager of instructional resources and materials department for San Diego Unified, said the role of teacher librarian, who can assist students with research, will be even more important with the Common Core standards.

“Most of our students and many of our teachers know Google,” Baron said. “I love Google, but to get that academic, really deep and rigorous information, it’s not Google.”

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Christie Ritter

Christie Ritter

Christie Ritter is a freelance writer for Voice of San Diego, author of four books and a former newspaper reporter. She is a graduate of Clairemont High, UCLA and SDSU. You can email her at christieritter@gmail.com, or follow her on Twitter: @swisscritter.

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62 comments
L Van
L Van subscriber

Hate to break it to you, but closed libraries are less a product of rigid union contracts than small budgets for schools.  You want public services, you have to pay taxes.  It's a simple (but painful) truth.

La Playa Heritage
La Playa Heritage subscribermember

Sounds just like the battle over cleaning the Fire Pits and public restrooms, where the City would rather take out the iconic Fire Pits and close the public restrooms then allow Volunteers to clean the pits and restrooms for free.  In order to volunteer to clean, the City required you set up a non-profit with $1 million in insurance.  Currently is would be illegal for Volunteers to open and close City Libraries and Recreation Centers doors without full staffing. 


We do have civic alternatives that requires leadership to implement.


Through our City's Managed Competition Guidelines approved by voters in 2006,  if Volunteers and parents want to take over Union only Bargaining Unit Work for joint use projects, the volunteer group would bid on the work for zero dollars or costs, and the Unions would bid for the work.  Whomever has the lowest costs has to be chosen. Then Mayor Faulconer would be allowed to hire all the San Diego who want to help.


www.tinyurl.com/20110509a


The next issue is liability Insurance for a volunteer workforce.  As part of FEMA Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT), Volunteers who submit to background checks and follow a course of training, get certified and get free Liability insurance paid for by our Federal Government. 


http://www.fema.gov/community-emergency-response-teams


http://www.sandiego.gov/fire/services/cert/


The solution is Joint Use between the City and Schools, with the help of CERT certified and fully insured local Volunteer citizens.  After breaking this Unions roadblock using the 2006 Managed Competition Guidelines, San Diegans would be allow to Volunteer to keep Recreation Center and City Libraries open based upon support from the communities.  

ScrippsDad
ScrippsDad subscriber

JimJones -  Not to pick a battle with you but I do have a slightly different perspective on Librarian. In todays world, it's not "suppose" to be just a clerks job to manage books on shelves. The position should require a higher degree of professional learning and training to impart upon the library customers a variety of skills, tools and "learning" (teaching). If you look at the description below, you can see that the expectation of a current day librarian should be a deep understanding of technology as a research tool and the ability to "teach "research skills to library customers, eg. students. This teaching is not just how to find a book in the stacks or use the Dewey decimal system, but, how to use technology as a research tool, thereby enhancing the learning and learning toolsets of students. As a parent of two boys in Middle School these skills are critical in todays world and needed to survive and perform in their growing professional life. I wish they had a library to go to with a librarian who could work with them and impart both the availability of technology assets at all levels, provide resources and instruct on their use to help develop research skills to help them. Should these tools be taught in the classroom too? Of course. But, in the optimum situation, students go to the library for a variety of reasons that can not be accommodated in the classroom and as a researcher myself, I can not stress how important I believe this cognitive skill set is critical to children's learning for their future. I have spent countless hours in library's.

A librarian is a person who works professionally in a library, and may hold a degree in librarianship (known either as library science or library and information science). Traditionally, a librarian is associated with collections of books, as demonstrated by the etymology of the word "librarian" (from the Latin liber, "book"). The role of a librarian is continually evolving to meet social and technological needs. A modern librarian may deal provision and maintenance of information in many formats, including: physical books; electronic resources; magazines; newspapers; audio and video recordings; maps; manuscripts; photographs and other graphic material; bibliographic databases; and web-based and digital resources. A librarian may also provide other information services, including: computer provision and training; coordination with community groups to host public programs; basic literacy education; assistive technology for people with disabilities; and assistance locating community resources. Appreciation for librarians is often included by authors and scholars in the Acknowledgment sections of books.

Pat McKemy
Pat McKemy subscriber

This is a very sad state of affairs. The libraries are gleaming new facilities and have shelves filled with innumerable books but because of the absence of any staff the libraries are closed. Something needs to be done as soon as possible to help the new generation and not break their relation with books.

Scott Barnett
Scott Barnett subscriber

After Prop MM 'was passed in 1998 I chaired. The first Citizen Oversight Committee (I was head of the SD taxpayers association, we supported and campaigned for prop MM)

At my suggestion, the oversight committee unanimously recommended that the then School Board "review" every prop MM project for potential joint-use with the city or other agencies. This Especially made sense for libraries as the city of SD was in the process of proposing a major expansion of its community libraries. At the urging of the Superintendent (then A Bersin) the school board voted unanimously to oppose the over sight committees recommendation. This shortsighted decision by the school board, is partially responsible for the legacy of closed and understaffed school (and city libraries). Today, SDUSD has only TWO joint use libraries with the city. Logan, and the new main library. I should add that my discussions at that time with city library staff at that time produced luke-warm interest in joint use. As we look toward spending $500 million in technology upgrades (including electronic tablets for students) we are examining the new (current and future) role devices will play in supplementing and supplanting library structures. As part of this review we should also ensure that contractual restrictions don't preclude our children from having access to existing libraries. The role of librarians has evolved and will continue too as technology creates universal access to the written word.

While we cannot undo the dumb decisions of the past, we can do better in the future. SDUSD will be spending approximately $6billion in school bonds over the next two decades. We have an opportunity to not only build modern and safe facilities for our students but to ensure that funds are spent to maximize community based schools with community services.

Last year trustee Richard Barrera and I presented a resolution supported unanimously by the current school board to develop school cluster master plans. (SDUSD has 16 high school clusters, including middle and elementary schools.) The purpose of this process is to not only see how all school cluster facilities can be better planned to meet our students needs, but to see how other service needs in our communities (libraries, health, transportation and recreations centers, etc) can ideally be incorporated into our neighborhood school sites.

This process will be starting soon.

Sbarnett@sandi.net

got2read
got2read subscriber

Libraries can be a great equalizer. Why are the most closed libraries in the more economically depressed  areas of town? Could it be because improved literacy translates to improved job prospects and that the people living in the areas of town where libraries are open recognize this and fund library staffing with foundations or other fund-raising efforts? This is where the real shame lies; in the fact that the children who have the least access to books at home and in their neighborhoods are the very ones being denied access to the rich resources behind the locked doors of the school library!

got2read
got2read subscriber

It doesn't seem like most of the commenters realize that the majority of SDUSD opened libraries are NOT staffed by a certified library media teacher; a person holding a teaching credential as well as a degree in information/library science.  The funding for that position at secondary schools went away during the Bersin era. Before then, secondary libraries were staffed with at least one librarian and one library technician. There were often additional staff like clerks and media support technicians as well.  Elementary libraries didn't even exist in most SDUSD schools until Prop MM.  We built libraries with local taxpayer money, filled them with books and computers using state taxpayer money and then left them unstaffed for the most part. Now, most secondaries libraries are staffed with one library technician, if at all. During Dr. Grier's reign, there was mandatory staffing for elementary libraries. It was minimal and cost neutral, when you consider the $10,000 per year it costs to staff an elementary library for 20 hours per week probably saves that much in lost books and materials. These are entry-level positions usually filled by someone who was once a parent of a child at that school and cares deeply about literacy. After Dr. Grier left, the next regime didn't feel it was worth $10,000 per school to keep the libraries open part time. Of course, no one has done the research or collected the data that could connect open libraries to increased reading and increased literacy scores. They haven't made the connection between the library closing and test scores dropping either. In any case, there are only a handful of librarians left in SDUSD. They may be a prep time teacher at the elementary school. There are a couple still at secondary schools where their value is recognized. The "librarian" at your child's elementary school who was laid off; the one you want to replace with a volunteer is probably actually a low paid library assistant who worked well beyond their paid hours just because they cared about the children and wanted them to have access to books.  The "librarian" at the secondary school library was probably a library technician whose hours were cut so health benefits would not have to be paid. Or perhaps they are the library technician whose job was cut only to be replaced by a lower-paid worker doing the exact same work.  Let's stop the argument about the value of a credentialed library media teacher. That argument may have mattered in 2001. It doesn't matter now. They aren't the ones the school board most recently defunded. 

Allen Hemphill
Allen Hemphill subscribermember

I find it interesting that comments supporting libraries, and abusing electronics, are written by people using electronics while writing to a newspaper that has no carbon counterpart.

Kelly Donivan
Kelly Donivan subscriber

This is really sad.  The K-8 school that my daughter just graduated from has had its library staffed by a volunteer for the past eight years: it is me!  We are actually quite fortunate, as this is a Catholic school and there are no unions.

I am an unpaid volunteer and have been the entire time that I have been the "Library Lady" at her school.  I have also worked with other moms at the school in procuring books, maintaining the materials and working with the kids when they come to the library.  I read them picture books, novels, help them find materials for classwork, have reading contests and the kids gain from the time spent with me.


Unions in public education need to do the way of the dodo.  Turning parents away from helping out in a volunteer capacity and this one is vital, is ridiculous.


Another reason why public education is going down, down, down...


Fran P.
Fran P. subscriber

I have books.   I love books.  I am sad when someone thinks they are "old fashioned".   Well, I'm guilty as charged.   I go to our local library and see the improvements that have been made.   Can't argue with the "techs"....my son makes a good living being a tech.    I still love books.   I love to handle them, trade them and sometimes, I even read them.   I also do a lot of PC.    Don't own an ipad, or a smart phone...I leave that to the ones who feel they must have them.   


An ancient one sends her regards.

francesca
francesca subscriber

Good to know that Donna Trippi and La Jolla Elementary can dip into their foundation and fund a librarian.

How about the schools that don't have foundations or Title 1....

Chris Brewster
Chris Brewster subscribermember

A problem here is school bonds. They're highly promoted by the business community because they generate private sector business. Same for bonds to build other public infrastructure. The problem is that bonds cover the cost of infrastructure, not staff. One might say, what's the value of having a library without a librarian? One might be told, well, the private sector created jobs to build the library. 

Fran P.
Fran P. subscriber

As a graduate of San Diego City Schools, I can't imagine not having a library to spend time in.   The library was a source for us to check out asignment information, etc.   I know we have PC's, etc., but all I can think to say to the education system available now  is SHAME ON YOU.  What a miserable excuse for a public education system.   So sad.

'

SherryS
SherryS subscriber

Local property taxes allocated for education diverted to other uses + No Title 1 $ for my child's school + Not enough $ donated by parents + Union contracts that are not in the best interest of students = Libraries No Child Can Use.  Damn shame.

Matty Azure
Matty Azure subscriber

"Books only give you ideas!"

Signed

Aunt Spiker 

Bill Bradshaw
Bill Bradshaw subscribermember

It's actually worse than "....run by the unions for the benefit of the unions...." This contract provision on library assistants doesn't protect anyone's job, it just hinders the kids' education. Sad.

Mark Giffin
Mark Giffin subscribermember

Yet another example of educations priorities that are right in your face and couldn't be more clear.

Perhaps the public should get a clue........

Faced with the prospect of their libraries closing, parents across San Diego volunteered to staff the libraries.

"That was impossible, though, thanks to language in the school district’s contract with the California School Employees Association, which represents library technicians and assistants. The rule says: “The district may accept the donation of work providing that it does not result in the layoff, reduction or replacement of bargaining unit employees or positions.”

Mark Giffin
Mark Giffin subscribermember

@L Van  

If the schools were good stewards of public monies then it would not be a problem.

They are not.

Toxic bond financing, borrowing long term for short term items(ipads), Selling off long term assets(real estate) for short term expenses, Giving raises as budgets face huge deficits, closing libraries instead of letting volunteers keep them open, Shifting personnel expenses (both maintenance and management) to bond monies and failing to be transparent, or addressing, the looming Tsunami of CALSTRS pension obligations.

I leave anything out?

Unfortunately that is the painful truth.


-P
-P subscriber

@ScrippsDad  Well said ScrippsDad. I would like to add, that in today's changing world, there are libraries that have very few, if any, physical books.

samsmith
samsmith subscriber

@Scott Barnett A school library is not a public library.  Kids can't leave the building and go to the local public library during school time and many kids can't access the public library system.  They are not redundant services and anyone who bothers to really analyze the function of both would know this.  This is another example of quick cuts with no thought.  The school librarian teaches, he/she does not just circulate books.  Did you bother to speak with school librarians or did you just think this up all by yourself and with other politicians? 

Allen Hemphill
Allen Hemphill subscribermember

My GreatGrandson attends a new public school with no books! All students have iPads, and the "library" is a large, well-lighted room with many USB connections, and all the textbooks are pre-loaded.

Libraries are just repositories of librarians. The James Martin 21st Century School at the University of Oxford in Oxford, England most recent study, the Impacts of Future Technology, addresses which professions are going away in the next 20 years, and I don't recall the relative standing of Librarians, but I suspect if Librarians were a stock, it would be a "sell."

Ancients may still love the tactile feel, and musty smell of "books" but my new purchases are 5% dead tree, 40% Kindle app on iPad, and 55% audio on Audible. The young enter school understanding the new technologies better than most of their teachers, and the young get their information in new and better ways than in the musty books of a library.

samsmith
samsmith subscriber

@Bill Bradshaw  May be you would like it if someone volunteered to do your job for free.  Did you ever stop to really think about why unions would want this in a contract?  No please take my job......

-P
-P subscriber

@Bill Bradshaw  I agree with you Jim, although the provision is somewhat akin to the federal law which restricts what unpaid interns can be asked to do.  (you probably remember that case last June which involved the intern who worked on the film Black Swan). Of course, interns are different than volunteers.

Kelly Donivan
Kelly Donivan subscriber

@Jim Jones: You are quite ignorant about the required knowledge and education of librarians.   It is NOT a minimum wage job. 

Apparently you have not spent enough time in a real library with a real librarian.

-P
-P subscriber

@Jim Jones  Sorry Jim, Librarian is a highly skilled job which usually requires, at a minimum, a masters degree. I think you are confusing librarians with library volunteers. 

Scott Barnett
Scott Barnett subscriber

First of all these cuts to library hours were all made prior to me joining the school board. Secondly, The fact is we have a school library at Logan elementary that is also accessible to the public on nonschool hours. And the new main public library downtown contains a public charter high school (which will at its peak serve 500 students) within the facility and they use that Library. A city solana beach library sits on oral Warren middle school campus and it is run by the County of San Diego. That facility has been open for more than a dozen years now. This is not rocket science it's very simple it's about maximizing text pairs dollars to serve all the public not feeding the selfish whims of bureaucrats . So in fact it can and does work and it's only bureaucratic turf wars that prevented from occurring in many more schools sites throughout San Diego unified and the County of San Diego. So instead of having taxpayers funded and built facilities owned two different public agencies (one by the city and one by the school district) we could have one taxpayer funded facility which is actually open to serve both students and the public We also operate health clinics on school sites, over 70 joint use parks, recreational centers on school sites swimming pools on school sites meeting rooms on school sites transportation facilities on school sites and there are many other areas where we could serve the public by working cooperatively with other jurisdictions.

got2read
got2read subscriber

@Jim Jones @Scott Barnett  Most SDUSD libraries are run by library technicians at secondary and library assistants at elementary. The costs have been driven down. Now SDUSD has decided to cut costs even more by replacing some low-paid library technicians with even lower-paid library technician 1's to do the same job. The District says they are cutting costs by cutting hours and medical benefits for its lowest-paid employees. I say it saves no money, because some of the costs of these cuts are lost materials and lower test scores. 


"Effectively" is subjective, but at least these folks were keeping libraries opened and the books in the hands of kids. How do we expect our children to read if they have no access to books?

Kelly Donivan
Kelly Donivan subscriber

@Jim Jones @Kelly Donivan Jim: You are welcome.  I have usually agreed with you in the past.  I have had all my "training" from professional librarians from the university I attended.  I took all that training and use it in my "job" as the Library Lady.  Other than being a mom, it is the best job I have ever had and I know that my efforts have made a difference with the students at our school.

Kelly Donivan
Kelly Donivan subscriber

@Allen Hemphill: You are showing great ignorance of the profession of librarianship, as well as insulting them as well. 

With the technology age, there is an even greater need for librarians.  Not only must they know all of the print of paper materials, they must also know how to access knowledge from all the technology.

You are a fool when it comes to knowledge and research!!

samsmith
samsmith subscriber

@Allen Hemphill  I am so glad that your great grandson is not exposed to books.  That is a great idea.  Who knows, he might learn something.......  Not all books are online yet.  Not all information online is good either.  Librarians also work with digital archives as well so you really do not know what you are talking about.  Guess what, librarians have been with information technology since the beginning. We move with it.  The majority of libraries have online collections.  Why don't you take the time to actually go to a library and speak with a librarian before you sell your stock.

ScrippsDad
ScrippsDad subscriber

@samsmith

WHAT?!! So you don't really care about the kids and their access to knowledge but about adults maintaining a job where there is no budget money to fund it? At what and who's expense as someone somewhere has to give when money can't go all around.

So, the kids lose unless the union wins?

As a taxpayer who not only pays into the general fund but participates in my local school with money, time and services I find it abhorrent that in the face of the District NOT being able to fund critical school functions that there is no alternative and the kids suffer. We didn't try to transplant or replace or even "please take my job" an employee, we just tried to fund and provide an educator for a District unfunded position.

Nobody trying to get rid of anybody - the district did that because of budget cuts. When the District can put a certified employee back, the parent funded position goes away. What's hard about that?

Wow.......

got2read
got2read subscriber

@Scott Barnett  That's just untrue. Serious library cuts were made after Dr. Grier left, while you were on the school board. Your reign saw 50+ school libraries close.

samsmith
samsmith subscriber

@Scott Barnett  Sorry if this was done prior but it could still be fixed.  Once again, has your school board done the research on the link between well stocked and staffed school libraries and student achievement?  Look at the research that has been done:


https://www.google.com/search?q=link+between+school+libraries+and+student+achievement&oq=link+between+school+libraries+and+student+achievement&aqs=chrome..69i57.12055j0j4&sourceid=chrome&espv=210&es_sm=119&ie=UTF-8



The link between school libraries and achievement is real and it is there.  You get more bang for your buck from school libraries than many money sucking useless programs.  You do understand that much of the technology that is being used as a substitute is very expensive and is not being used wisely.  Case in point, many districts have drunk the Mac Kool Aide.  Schools are paying $600 for devices without any content.  These devices will be outdated in two years and will have to be replaced.  A school librarian who is worth their salt would advise an administrator to go Android and save anywhere from 50% to 60% on devices.  This would allow for money to be spent on content and on teachers.  The tech companies are laughing all the way to the bank at tax payer expense and people are not wise enough to really look at it.  Libraries are old so they must be bad.  iPad - shiny pretty device - must be good.  This type of thinking is going to result in increased educational spending with no serious impact on student achievement. 




Allen Hemphill
Allen Hemphill subscribermember

No, wrong again. I published almost 1,000 columns for the Rancho Bernardo News, (Eileen Haag, Editor) which was bought by the Pomerado Press for which I now write (Steve Dryer, Editor). They publish the Rancho Bernardo/4s Ranch, Poway News Chieftain, etc. and my last published column was 10 days ago -- but I was also a columnist for the San Diego Business Journal for more than a year. (Also the Temecula News, and their eight subsidiaries.)

Yes, I also have a daily Blog, with almost 4,000 blog entries, but my work for newspapers is on the record.

samsmith
samsmith subscriber

@Allen Hemphill  Also, most of your 2000 columns are from your blog which you moderate.  I have also written thousands of web items but I do not consider myself to be a real writer.  Anyone can post anything online and it seems as if you do that quite well.

samsmith
samsmith subscriber

@Allen Hemphill  I checked your profile:


Graduate of US Naval Academy, Annapolis, 26 year Naval Service primarily in Submarines. Co-Founder Apple Computer Dealership, turnaround manager of computer company for US Bankruptcy Court, Adjunct Prof. Of Computer Science, CEO of Los Angeles TV Station KBSC-TV, Chairman, Oak Broadcasting Co. 35 year Real Estate Broker. Published more than 2,500 columns in Rancho Bernardo and surrounding communities.

Allen Hemphill
Allen Hemphill subscribermember

Sam, I do not sell any computers, and have not for 25 years, so your information is wrong. You need to check a library...

Allen Hemphill
Allen Hemphill subscribermember

If I appear "pompous" it was in reply to your insulting, "You are a fool when it comes to knowledge and research!!" Which is demonstrably false.

Information (library) science is not science any more than Women's Studies or Black Studies is a science, they are specific knowledge area useful in a specific (and very limited area.

Useful (marginally) today, the degree has a limited future. Parents with children should not want to have their children seek a degree with a questionable future.

Kelly Donivan
Kelly Donivan subscriber

@Allen Hemphill:  Not everyone who disagrees with me is "dumb" (your word choice, NOT mine),  however what I do see that you are a pompous man who has tunnel vision.  I find your attitude quite disrespectful to an entire field of educated professionals.

And humble!  WOW!  I'm so impressed that you are such a prolific writer!  NOT!!! 

It is VERY apparent that you have already decided what is a "skill" over an "profession" that does require a minimum of a masters degree in information (library) science. 

I find your outlook to be insulting to anyone who doesn't wear your blinders. 

My daughter attends a high school that is very technical, but it does have a library AND a professional librarian!! 

Let's hope that the electricity doesn't go out.  Your great grandson may not have access to a book to learn. 



Allen Hemphill
Allen Hemphill subscribermember

Kelly, I have successfully published more than 2,000 columns over the past 32 years, so I must know SOMETHING about knowledge and research, but I suppose that if someone disagrees with you they must be dumb.

Librarians may think of themselves as a profession, but what they have is a skill -- and a skill not dissimilar to that of a Buggy Whip factory worker of the late 1800s, whose future was already written even if not recognized.

ScrippsDad
ScrippsDad subscriber

@samsmith @ScrippsDad


First - what I'm saying is the District has COMPLETE control over whether or not the District funds the Librarian position. The community has no say - until such time as the District choses NOT to fund the position. When the District budgets the position back, the community position goes away. So, the beef should be with the SDEA and the district and NOT with the community who is only trying to be good stewards for kids education and should not be penalized for the lack of fiduciary or strategic financial planning of the District.


This has nothing to do with raising taxes which, by your implications would go directly to adults compensation and STILL not provide any assurances that the Librarian positions would be filled by the District - there are no mandates on how the District spends money on certificated positions, so the increase in tax could go to pay raises and still result in Librarian layoffs. Again, this battle should be between SDEA and District and not the community who should have the right, in lieu of the districts failure to provide the position, the option to provide the position until such time as the District rehires.


Also - I know teachers and teaching and budgets and schedules and work product and work flow and time and responsibility for this profession. I've grown up in it and taught college when in grad school. I have the highest respect for GOOD teachers and what they do.


First - the 67K per year is salary only the AVERAGE for SDUSD from a couple of years ago (it has only gone up since then) and not the salary at the end of the 17 years of Step and Column.


I would suggest that you do the math for the VALUE of the full compensation package for certificated; the salary + the retirement + the tenure + health benefits + Step and Column + Post and Bid + annual work days (yearly plus holidays plus sick plus, plus plus...) + Professional Development - to start. Here's a stat for you - there are 2080 work hours in a year. At 180 teaching days at 8 hours per day (the school day is shorter so I figure a full day of 8 to do the before and after work) comes to 1,440. So, the 67K of just salary represents 69% of what a fulltime annual position would get paid for the same money.


Please don't misunderstand me - I believe in quality teachers and believe they should be paid properly with proper benefits. I do not believe in bad teachers or unreasonable benefits at the expense of our children that only go to diluting children's educational opportunities.


Finally - in the private sector, I have advanced degrees, tons of job experience and I too cringe when I hear that management may be looking or forced to layoff workers and that my position may be eliminated. Welcome to the hard realities of the world today. But - it's the golden rule and not public employee entitlements - they with the gold rules. If the District can't or doesn't fund positions, then there should be other community options for the benefit of children and not restricted by some CBA where that argument and fight should be done with employer and employee and not at the expense of children. Therefore community can work to save the children while the employer and employee battle (adults) battle it out.


samsmith
samsmith subscriber

@ScrippsDad @samsmith  When you cut the librarian, you cut the program.  Librarians are a HUGE part of the library program.  Yes, there are administrative costs that could have been cut.  I have worked with school budgets for over 20 years and trust me, it is there.  Teachers work more than 9 months.  Do you think that the curriculum fairy comes in the first day of school.  Do you think that papers get graded while the little dears sit patiently at their desks.  It does not work that way and $67,000 for 17 years and post graduate degrees is not a huge amount of money.  An elementary teacher supervises 25 or more "employees".  Yes there is accountability if the locally elected school board did not hire a dolt for a superintendent.  


I may have read your incorrectly.  Is your community thinking about a tax increase to get the position back?  If so, I am sorry for jumping the gun.


I am a school librarian and cringe when I hear that people feel that it is perfectly ok to replace me with a bunch of volunteers when I have earned graduate degrees and have over 2 decades or work experience.  I would not tell another person how to do their job and I would not demean their job.  Today's school librarians just don't stamp books, they teach.

ScrippsDad
ScrippsDad subscriber

@samsmith @ScrippsDad

You are so very wrong - I have studied the District budget, go back and read my history of posts. I understand in great detail just what is spent, how it is spent and on who it is spent on. I understand the compensation line of the general budget extremely well and understand how the budget works, what's protected and what's not. If you want to get into the line item details - bring it on, but, do your homework before casting dispersion; total compensation, namely salary and benefits costs the District over 95% of the general fund. That means only 5 cents on the dollar goes to children's  education, programs and operational costs. The District has cut and cut deeply into administration costs and if you look at the ratio of classified today vice 5 years ago you will see for yourself just how much was spent and is now spent on admin. Then, look at certificated comp: an average salary of 67K per year for 9 months work, 10% contributed to retirement (CalSprs), 100% of health benefits for employee, spouse and all dependents, no performance measures or accountability, tenure after 2 years, performance evaluations every 5 years and a 4% pay raise regardless of performance every year for 17 years not to mention the column increase  (read Step and Column). Add LIFO to that along with Post and Bid and what do you get?

Also - I'm not a communist (actually a fiscal Rep and environmental Dem)  and to make such accusation is ludicrous and only shows naiveté. And, I have lost jobs because of budget cuts and as a business owner have had to make the hard decisions of laying off people because, in case you don't know, printing money is unlawful. If there is no money in either the private sector or the public sector than no matter how much you think entitlements ensure employment, it doesn't work that way.

Again - nobody is asking anybody to work for free to replace a paying job - listen carefully here. The District cut the position, not the students or the parents, but, the District because there was no money to pay for it (you should really ask yourself where this money was being spent and you will discover that the bulk was already being spent on certificated compensation!). So, given this, the students should suffer? It takes a community and if the community is willing to put their money where their mouth is to support children and put kids first, then no document or adult entitlements should prevent that. When the District funds are replenished and the District can fund that position, then the volunteer or paid foundation staffer departs for the certified employee.

How is this hard to comprehend?

samsmith
samsmith subscriber

@ScrippsDad @samsmith Ok lets get rid of your job because your business is cutting back.  You must be a communist because you believe that everyone should work for free.  How about asking your local school district just how many administrators they have.  More and more school districts are very top heavy. Also, the school librarian is ALSO a taxpayer and ALSO contributes to the local economy.  You still do not get it.  The librarian was a person who was earning a wage and who needed the money just as you do.  As long as others are willing to work for free, your tax dollars will be spent on crap for the school that the kids do not need.  Did you take a long hard look at the line item budget for the district?  How much was spent on administrative costs?  Bet you can't answer that.

Geoff Page
Geoff Page subscribermember

@Jim Jones @Kelly Donivan  Now there is an intelligent reply.  Why don't you try answering some questions about your qualifications to even comment on this issue? When was the last time you were in a school library?  

Kelly Donivan
Kelly Donivan subscriber

@Jim Jones @Kelly Donivan No...sorry, you are very wrong here.   Research is not simple, particularly when it needs to be done correctly.  These are children we are talking about here and there are skills they need to learn to actually do research!  In this internet age, can YOU tell the difference as to what is real information on the internet as opposed from the garbage?  Did YOU know that Google has a site just for scholarly searches?  Do YOU know how to properly cite an internet source?  Can YOU identify a primary source from a secondary source?  And can YOU convey this information to children??  This is WHY professional librarians with degrees are needed. 

Geoff Page
Geoff Page subscribermember

@Jim Jones @Geoff Page @-P  Union apologists? Fat salaries? Greedy union employees? Union clones? Greedy unions skimming?Where do you get this stuff from Rush Limbaugh’s playbook?


I’m not a union apologist, I’m against the trend in this country to use broad brushes to blame all our woes on a menu of issues that people of a certain political bent feed their followers who prefer not to think.  Union.  Immigration. Progressives.  Pick one.  You didn’t point anything out other than to show you are anti-union and you did not address my comments about your own personal experience with or without unions. If you have never needed one, then you can’t understand the value of them.


Fat salaries for these bloated positions?  What does a librarian actually make, do you have any idea?  So following your logic, we should pay librarians the salary and benefits like the private sector.  Can you tell us where there are any private sector librarians and what they make?


Greedy union employees?  Do you even know anyone who belong to a union?  They are regular people trying to make a living for their families and they are all around you.  If that is greed, then we are all guilty.  Or, do you know union employees who live at La Jolla Shores and drive Porsches and have second homes in Mammoth.  I doubt it.


Your last paragraph takes the cake.  Your preference is to hire a clerk who knows nothing about libraries and pay them minimum wage, which buys us all kinds of problems, and that is “For the kids?” I’d rather we put an intelligent, motivated, educated person in the position because I would prefer any person who interacts with our kids during the school day be someone who contributes something to their education.


I think you picked the wrong menu item for this one, it’s not unions.  Go ask whoever you get this stuff from what you should say next. Unions are needed precisely because of people who think like you do.

Sue Elam
Sue Elam subscribermember

BTW, Jim, the word is principal, not principle. Ask your local librarian...

Sue Elam
Sue Elam subscribermember

BTW, Jim, the word is principal, not principle.

Kelly Donivan
Kelly Donivan subscriber

@-P @Geoff Page@Jim Jones

Holding a library MIS degree will be a job requirement per legislation.  This is because the job is funded by public money.  In most schools, including college level, the school may not be accredited if the person with the job does not have the degree.

Kelly Donivan
Kelly Donivan subscriber

@Jim Jones: To be hired as a librarian for a school (elementary, high school or college/university, public library, private library, medical school, law school, drug company, et al., one must possess a Masters of Information Science (formerly called Library Science).  No degree...no job.   In government jobs or any college or university, it is often a legislated requirement to have the degree.


Stop by a public library branch and speak to a reference librarian and ask them about cataloging, researching a government document (that is a specialty all its own!), find primary sources for a historical event and any number of questions. 


samsmith
samsmith subscriber

@Jim Jones @Geoff Page @-P  School librarians teach students and faculty information literacy skills.  The majority of school librarians are duel certified both in library and another content area.  Quick job description of an elementary librarian:  School librarian will conduct both large group and small group instruction, administer assessments of student progress, analyze student achievement data, collaborate with classroom teachers to develop and administer curriculum, plan and implement school wide literacy programs, collaborate with parent and community groups to secure funding for resources, procure online and print resources that align with current curriculum, and continue professional development to include current pedagogy and emerging technologies.

Geoff Page
Geoff Page subscribermember

@Jim Jones @-P @Geoff Page  -  I'm guessing you are the kind of guy who turns every discussion like this into an anti-union polemic. I've been on both sides of this fence having worked for both non-union and union companies.  Unions certainly have their problems, but without them, regular folks would have to deal with people like you. I'm also guessing you are someone who  probably never has needed a union and who thinks the solution to these problems is to find someone cheap who has no hope of affecting their own livelihood.  Unions give a voice to regular people who have to deal with other people who have your attitude.


In addition to that, it sure sounds like you don't understand enough about what a librarian does to even be a part of this discussion.  My final guess is that you are a one-issue person who has been drinking someone else's Kool Aid, which allows you to avoid real thought. 

-P
-P subscriber

@Geoff Page @Jim Jones @-P  " I would hazard a guess that librarians years ago did not need a college degree, much less an advanced degree."  Probably true. I would suspect the same for teachers. Librarianship, as a field of study (aka Library Science) began in the 19th century. It does appear that not all states require a masters to to a public school librarian, but, at a minimum, in addition to the teaching credential, they need to take additional specialized course work.

-P
-P subscriber

@Jim Jones @-P sounds like you could use a trained librarian to help you with you research. you really don't know what the job entails.

Geoff Page
Geoff Page subscribermember

@Jim Jones @-P  Union bashing is not the answer, this is not a union problem Mr. Jones.  This is a problem of a society that continues to pump too many highly educated people into a society that will never have enough jobs for them.  The universities are complicit in this as they continue to create fields of study for work that never required higher education and once a university degree is involved, the work then becomes automatically more valuable.  I would hazard a guess that librarians years ago did not need a college degree, much less an advanced degree.


Look around, we have systems and institutions we did not have years ago as educated people think up things to do and then attempt to make these things appear indispensable.  One example might be something called "partnering" in the construction industry.  All this really amounts to is a system, with educated facilitators, designed to have as an end goal what Rodney King stated very simply as "can't we all just get along?"  Before partnering, we had to learn to get along to build a project.  Now, most larger project contracts have a partnering requirement and most participants will tell you it is a waste of time.  It was created and it was made a requirement.  


Unions are not to blame for everything.

-P
-P subscriber

@Jim Jones @-P  Jim, you are describing a volunteer, or, at the highest level, a library clerk. You seem to think that anybody who does any work in a library is a librarian.