Thursday, October 22, 2009


I know I work in a private school (which I often refer to as an independent school, as it feels less weird to say), but I believe passionately in the fundamental importance of public education. I went to public schools. My dad, the most amazing teacher I have ever known, teaches at a public school. I taught at a public school. Some of my best friends are public school teachers.

Also, I don’t think all charter schools are, by definition, bad, but I certainly don’t see them as a cure-all for our public school system—particularly when a charter school, by its very existence, undermines the education public school students are getting. It’s like blaming someone for having a broken leg when you’re the one who pushed him down the stairs.

Since I’m not a lawyer and am not intimately familiar with New York’s education laws, I won’t mention the fact that what they’ve done here is pretty much illegal.

And what of library services for the charter school students? This could have been an amazing opportunity to make that space the center for these schools that—due to poor planning—are sharing limited space. What a squandered opportunity.

I have an inkling as to how the library blogosphere will react to this—it just shows that we as school librarians need to be better at promoting what we do and how important it is and blah, blah, blah. But I don’t think for a second that that’s what’s going on here—look at how lovingly that library was renovated, with all sorts of support from people from within and outside the school; that is not a librarian with weak PR skills. This was a decision made by shortsighted idiots who aren’t going to be convinced by research, or arguments, or evidence, since they operate on the assumption that everything they do is Right.

The fact that this beautiful library is now being used, in part, as a Teacher’s Lounge has, I’m relatively certain, raised more hackles than if it were being used as a teaching space. And I get that. But I’ve worked in schools with and without a dedicated space for teachers, and the availability of a Teacher’s Lounge makes a difference in the attitude and energy of the faculty, and the overall climate of the school. I get that Teacher’s Lounges are important, and are far more than a place to drink a cup of coffee in quiet (not that that’s not important), but I can’t imagine being able to use that space as a lounge in good conscience.

More here: Stephen Krashen at Substance News and here:School Library Journal

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