The classroom as budget battleground

Certified librarians, not volunteers, are essential to ed reform

October 19, 2010

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READ "STANDARDS for the 21st-Century Learner," established by the American Association of School Librarians, and then tell me that volunteers should be used to keep school libraries open. Would you let a volunteer come in to teach math or science? Brian McGrory, echoing gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker's criticism of unions keeping libraries closed by opposing the use of volunteers, obviously would ("Teachers need a lesson," Metro, Oct. 13).

Many are unfamiliar with the kinds of standards that have been developed recently to address the readiness gap our students face when entering a 21st-century workforce. The American Association of School Librarians standards are similar to those published by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, which Massachusetts has adopted. Libraries are no longer just for merely checking out books. They are the nexus of school reform -- or, rather, they can be, if someone qualified and certified is hired to do the job.

Teacher librarians can be pivotal to the kinds of changes that need to occur if our schools are going to produce information-literate students who are creative problem-solvers, critical thinkers, and active citizens -- students ready for a 21st-century world. But they can only be so if we invest in hiring them.

Richard Smyth,

The writer is librarian at Cathedral High School in Boston.

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