Legislation

GLA Legislative Center to Oppose HB 278

Many thanks to GLMA President and friend Susan Grigsby for sharing this information with me;  let your voice be heard!

If you believe in the value of school libraries in Georgia you need to Take
Action Now!<http://capwiz.com/ala/ga/utr/1/OVEGKBXVJX/IFYRKBZBQV/3072016891>

Georgia House Bill 278, now being reviewed by the Senate Education and Youth
Committee, will decimate funding for school libraries and media centers
across Georgia by rolling dedicated funding for school libraries into
general operating budgets of school systems.

Georgia House Bill 278 is summarized as follows: “[T]o be entitled an Act to
amend Article 6 of Chapter 2 of Title 20 of the Official Code of Georgia
Annotated, relating to the “Quality Basic Education Act,” so as to
temporarily waive certain expenditure controls relating to funds earned for
direct instructional costs, media center costs, staff and professional
development costs, and additional days of instruction; to provide for
automatic repeal; to provide for related matters; to repeal conflicting
laws; and for other purposes.”

What this means for Georgia school libraries:

- This dedicated funding has already dropped from $19.54 in 2003 per
student FTE to $15 FTE for elementary and $13 for middle and high schools.
- These dedicated funds have already been diverted in many cases and will
disappear entirely if HB 278 passes, leaving school libraries with no
budgets.
- Library orders have already been cancelled in mid-process as systems
take back dedicated funds already delivered since HB 278 has language making
it retroactive to July 2008.
- Kids who read and learn 21st century literacy skills succeed. School
libraries make it happen.
- Studies from across the country show that funded and staffed school
libraries improve students test scores.

Please contact your Senator immediately to urge the defeat of this bill!

We hope you will be able to take a few minutes to respond, and to forward
this alert to your friends, to have them let their representatives know the
value of school libraries.

Thanks for being receptive to receiving these messages, and for your help!

Sincerely,

Susan Grigsby
President
Georgia Library Media Association

Jim Cooper
President
Georgia Library Association

My Letter to Representative Coleman

Dear Representative Coleman: 

I would like to respectfully request that you include media specialists in the proposed HB 157 legislation that would allow certain groups of educators to return to full time employment and collect full retirement benefits under certain conditions. 

Quite frankly, I am shocked we would be excluded from this legislation.  Information literacy is no longer an “optional” aspect of a child’s education; it is imperative that today’s students acquire and hone these skills in order to be prepared for post-secondary education and today’s workforce.   More importantly, one must have information literacy in order to effectively participate in our democratic society. 

What do media specialists do?  I assure you we do more than “check out books”!  I arrive before most teachers do, and I am usually one of the last to leave.  I do not get a planning period or a fixed lunch; most days I am lucky to eat while I work at my computer at the circulation desk or between classes that we are teaching.   Whether I am teaching a group of ninth graders how to access information through a research database, helping an individual child master a technology skill, or collaborating with our teachers to develop lessons that we will deliver together to our students, I *TEACH* all day long, every day.  In fact, I was voted “Teacher of the Month” in September of 2006 at my school and was a finalist for Teacher of the Year this year.  I tied for 2nd place for the 2006 Golden Apple Teacher Award  in my school, an award voted on by teachers.  Many media specialists in our state have been recognized as “Teacher of the Year” in their schools and their districts!

This legislation implies that we are not “worthy” of the same benefits as classroom teachers.  I can assure you that I work just as hard, if not harder, as a high school media specialist than I did as a classroom secondary English teacher (and that was pretty darn hard!).  We as media specialists teach just as classroom teachers do and work with many learners day in and day out in our libraries.  I might also add that you have to have at least a master’s degree to even *BE* a media specialist—this is not a requirement for classroom teachers!  In fact, I have a M.Ed. and Ed.S. that I earned in person from the University of Georgia, the only School Library Media program in Georgia to earn AASL accreditation.  

Qualified and talented media specialists are more important than ever in this age where information literacy is a requirement, not an option!  We are at the heart of learning in Georgia’s schools.   There are numerous research studies that show media specialists and effective school library media programs are correlated to increased student achievement.  Here are some resources that have just a sampling of the evidence of how we impact achievement:

I believe my fellow faculty and administration would attest to how vital I am to my school as the media specialist.  If you want to see what I do, I invite you to visit:

I will only be 51 when I am eligible to retire—this legislation would be an incentive for me to extend my career as a K-12 educator and would enable me to afford to work in a rural district where qualified school library media specialists are always in demand.   

I am a leader, a shaker, and a mover in my school who is passionate about teaching and learning as a media specialist.    We as media specialists are always on the leading edge of new innovations in education and teaching strategies. I urge you to please include school library media specialists in this legislation so that children in Georgia can not only have access to highly qualified classroom teachers who may come out of retirement, but also to highly qualified school library media specialists as well. 

Thank you for listening to my concerns and considering my request.

Respectfully,

Buffy J. Hamilton, Ed.S.
Creekview High School
1550 Owens Store Road
Canton, GA  30115
770-720-7600, x. 253

buffy.hamilton@cherokee.k12.ga.us
http://webtech.cherokee.k12.ga.us/creekview-hs/mediacenter
http://webtech.cherokee.k12.ga.us/creekview-hs/buffyhamilton 

HB 157: Retirement Legislation That EXCLUDES Media Specialists!

I was quite disturbed to learn of proposed legislation that would exclude media specialists from proposed retirement legislation.  According to Betsy Razza, our GLMA Legislative “liaison” and “advocate”, HB 157  would allow:

… a retired teacher to return to full-time employment and continue to collect his or her full retirement benefit.  A certified teacher is defined in this bill as teaching pre-kindergarten through grade 12 employed by the public schools who has as his or her primary sole responsibility the academic instruction of students in a classroom.

An update we received this evening stated that counselors and media specialists (I guess because we are “S” or service personnel and not perceived as vital as classroom teachers?) were excluded to “save money.”  Sources with PAGE and GLMA believe that counselors will be included, but media specialists are still excluded.  

To view the proposed legislation:    
http://www.legis.state.ga.us/legis/2007_08/fulltext/hb157.htm

To even consider excluding us is shocking, insulting, and infuriating to me.  I arrive before most teachers do, and I am usually one of the last to leave.  I do not get a planning period or a fixed lunch; most days I am lucky to eat while I work at my computer at the circulation desk or between classes that we are teaching.  I might also add that you have to have at least a master’s degree to even *BE* a media specialist—this is not a requirement for classroom teachers!

This legislation implies that we are not “worthy” of the same benefits as teachers.  I can assure you that I work just as hard, if not harder, as a high school media specialist than I did as a classroom teacher (and that was pretty darn hard!).  We as media specialists teach just as classroom teachers do and work with many learners day in and day out in our libraries.  Qualified and talented media specialists are more important than ever in this age where information literacy is a requirement, not an option!

If you believe media specialists should be entitled to the same privileges as other educators, then please contact these legislators and voice your concerns.  Rep. Brooks Coleman is the author of this well-intended but misguided legislation.  Please contact him with your concerns and objections at:

brooks.coleman@house.ga.gov

At the Capitol:   404-656-9210

At his home:    770-476-4471

Remember these key points:

  • Georgia needs qualified school library media specialists to run our libraries.
  • There is already a shortage of fully certified school library media specialists  in rural areas that would affect staffing.
  • School library media specialists are certified educators by the Professional Standards Commission; our work impacts all areas of the curriculum.  We work collaboratively with classroom teachers to co-teach across the curriculum in all areas.

We are more instrumental than ever to public education, yet many legislators do not understand our value or importance.  Let us vocalize our concerns to our legislators so that they may have a better understanding of how vital we are to the education of children of all ages in Georgia.