Last week I wrote about school librarians in the news. What’s crazy is that no school librarian also makes the news, especially when kids can’t get to books.
Things are a mess when teacher’s unions are trying to keep children from reading, but that’s sort of what’s happening at one elementary school in Chicago.
Because of low enrollment, the Chicago school board made some budget cuts, and one of the cuts was the librarian position at the school.
That might not be the end of the world. It’s not like you really need a library degree to buy books and check them out to school children, no matter how much librarians might protest. Any reasonably intelligent person can be taught to buy books, catalog them, and check them out.
However, it doesn’t sound like the school board made any provision for that, so a couple of parents were volunteering at the library so that it could stay open for the students.
But then the “Chicago Teachers Union filed a grievance, fearing parent volunteers in the library would eventually lead to the permanent elimination in the paid librarian position,” and so the library doesn’t open at all during the school day.
That’s the sort of thing that gives teacher’s unions a bad name. They can justify the grievance however they like, but the only people hurt in this scenario are the children who can no longer use the library.
School boards looking to cut budgets don’t need a reason not to replace the librarian, but if they did the reason probably wouldn’t be that some volunteering parents prove that the librarian position is unnecessary, because only a fool could believe that.
In fact, they already have their reason for cutting the budget: lower than expected enrollment, which doesn’t make any more sense than “volunteering parents” unless public school students are now paying tuition. Given the sorry state of educational funding, that wouldn’t surprise me these days.
So if the school board has already got a lame excuse for cutting the librarian position, why would they need another one? It’s not like piling them on top of each other makes them stronger.
If the enrollment increased and then the school board refused to return the librarian position, the union would have something legitimate to gripe about. Instead, they’re using their own lame excuse to keep children away from the library.
It’s great that the teachers are showing solidarity with the librarians, but it would be better if they were more concerned about the students’ access to the library than with projecting their own power for little reason.