HISD School Libraries

Houston Chronicle Questions Condition of
School Libraries

The Houston Chronicle recently, in latter 2007, displayed plain common sense and leadership on our children's education as squarely based on the quality their school libraries. WTM readers realize that the appeals of school librarians have long been lost in the winds to “other matters” and the pursuit of technology. The Chronicle supports their efforts.

The November 25, 2007 article by Jennifer Radcliffe, “HISD's library shelves are lacking:
Report says collections are too small or old, and many schools have none at all” made the front page and above the fold. By simply letting the facts and experts tell the story, she exposed the stunning reality that HISD and other area Districts are sharply below standards on the number and age of books available in our students' libraries, the availability of professionally educated staff (sometimes no staff at all), and, surprise of surprises, no libraries at all in some schools.

Only days later four letters to the Editor were printed, all clearly advocating improvement. http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/editorial/outlook/5334132.html

The next week, another letter writer, the dependable Marvin Rich, former Commissoner of the Texas State Library & Archives, revealed the state's separate legislative culpability in undermining our libraries with the loss of the TIF. http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/editorial/outlook/5349106.html

In its boldest stance, the Chronicle also ran its own December 3rd Editorial, at the top, “Non-elective: School libraries are the essential bedrock of a good education,” remarking in further detail on the necessity of such a simple component of the educational experience. In fact, the Chronicle noted that the availability of a well stocked library was SECOND!!!!! only to socioeconomic factors in determining the success of the students on the usual tests - that's SECOND! over other considerations. Good libraries in schools are that important. That’s where the mind takes responsibility for exploration. http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/editorial/5346247.html

If we wish to destroy the next generation or its self-worth, it's easy, take away their books - if not, give them good libraries.

Yes, it all takes money. But the real problem is the folks who feel they’re beyond accountability when the schools’ budgets are determined. If you wish to make a difference, get a-hold of a principal and don’t let them shuck you off by the “it’s somebody else’s responsibility” reflex, if it is, they should want to take you to that next person, if they’re worth your tax-paid salary.
Update: In June 2008 the new budget is "supposed" to have addressed these issues. Time and implementation will tell. - WH

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