Sunday, May 28, 2023

The Dark Side of Education Reform


Let's Face It: It's All Dark.

Praise the Lord!  In  my county in West Virginia, the end of the year testing (the big test, the General Summative Assessment) and iReady benchmark testing are finished for the 2022-2023 school year.  Hallelujah!  This coming week students who have missed more than five days or more than one unexcused absence will take semester exams. Looking at it like this, we have spent the better part of the 4th quarter in tests.  Our testing began the last week of April and has taken place at least two days of every week since.  That's a lot of time that could be spent learning, investigating, writing. learning new math concepts. How did we get here?

I was graduated from high school in 1978.  I matriculated from West Virginia University in 1982 with a bachelor's degree in secondary education, with certifications in library media, journalism and social studies. I was green as grass when President Ronald Reagan proclaimed that all students should have a college education. Even in my naivete, I knew that was BS. Every child did not need a college education.  Certainly those in skill positions would need additional training to embark upon their careers, but this training was most often conducted on the job or through union apprentice programs In both of these cases, the student would be paid for learning. Most of those going to college would have to rely on federal student aid, often in the form of government subsidised student loans. Your government at work.

Am I complaining about the government backing loans for those in need?  Not at all.  I think doors should be opened to those who have a sincere desire to learn and seek coursework that will prepare them for their futures.  Unfortunately, that is not everybody, and the frivolous manner in which these loans were dispatched to almost anyone that applied was a guaranteed way of creating a workforce that was indebted not just to the banks and the federal government but to their employers who knew the graduates would rely on their jobs to pay those loans back.

And thus began what I cynically call the first step in creating a working class that is compelled to work under any circumstances with little to no protest or in jobs lower than their educational creditentials imply. Why?  Students are in debt to the United States government or their subsidiaries before they even begin their careers.  This is perhaps one of the best laid traps to ensure the U.S. has a wealth of well-educated labor to work in service industries for little pay.  What does this do to the people who chose not to pursue higher education?  Well, I guess these people end up in the unemployment line. 

There are other coexisting theories I have concocted that align strongly with this theory, but this is enough for today.  Is this theory well researched ?  No. These are views based on my observations after watching the fallout 40 years years later.

Saturday, May 13, 2023

The End is Here

 End of Year Tasks for School Librarians

The end of the school year is a busy time for everyone, but it can be especially hectic for school librarians. There are a lot of tasks that need to be completed before the summer break, and it can be difficult to know where to start.

To help you get organized, here is a checklist of end of year tasks for school librarians:

  • Check in all returned books. This is probably the most important task on the list, as it ensures that all of your books are available for students when they return in the fall.

  • Weed the collection. This is a great time to get rid of any books that are outdated, damaged, or simply not being used.

  • Order new books. This is a great opportunity to add some new titles to your collection that will appeal to students' interests.

  • Create a summer reading program. This is a great way to keep students reading over the summer break.

  • Plan for the upcoming school year. This includes things like creating a budget, developing lesson plans, and ordering supplies.

In addition to these tasks, there are a few other things that school librarians may need to do at the end of the school year. These include:

  • Clean the library. This includes dusting, vacuuming, and mopping.

  • Repair any damage to furniture or equipment.

  • Take down any displays.

  • Return any borrowed materials.

  • Send out end of year reports.

By completing these tasks, school librarians can ensure that their libraries are ready for the upcoming school year. This will allow them to focus on providing students with the best possible learning experience.

Here are some additional tips for school librarians who are looking to get ahead on their end of year tasks:

  • Start early. The earlier you start on your end of year tasks, the less stressful it will be.

  • Create a plan. Once you know what needs to be done, create a plan of action. This will help you stay organized and on track.

  • Delegate tasks. If you have the help of other staff members, delegate some of your end of year tasks to them.

  • Take breaks. Don't try to do everything at once. Take breaks throughout the day to avoid burnout.

  • Celebrate your accomplishments. Once you've completed all of your end of year tasks, take some time to celebrate your accomplishments. You deserve it!

Friday, May 5, 2023


In case you all haven't noticed, we are at a bad place in our history, and it is threatening to become worse. The cornerstone defining America, the First Amendment, is being attacked in subtle and not so subtle ways.  There are many bad players, but perhaps the most prominent is Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida.

Ron DeSantis recently signed into law a bill that greatly restricts the freedom of speech for dissidents and activists. The bill has been met with strong opposition from civil rights activists, who argue that the law is a clear violation of their First Amendment rights. Critics contend the law will limit their ability to challenge policies and express their opinions in public forums. DeSantis has denied the accusations and has maintained that the law is necessary to ensure public safety and order.

Now, apparently New College of Florida has fired a library director who just happens to be queer and who may, perhaps, advocate for representation of silenced voices and alternative points of view (Moody). This follows the replacement of several colleges board members in the midst of a conservative makeover. The board claims that the move to dismiss the director is a part of a realignment, but regardless of that possibility, a library still needs a central voice to pull all its human capital together.  It would be very nice if that person is a librarian.  If the person overseeing the library is not a librarian, I fear a lot of micromanaging aimed at deafening the collection's voice of "woke" issues may occur.  

The reason the library director was dismissed may have nothing to do with her gender identity.  Still, the Fact Sheet "LGBT Workers in the Labor Market" discussing the challenges faced by LGBT individuals in the workforce, including discrimination, harassment, and lack of legal protections, highlights the fact that LGBT workers are more likely to experience poverty and unemployment than non-LGBT workers. While there have been some improvements in workplace policies and attitudes towards LGBT workers in recent years, there is still much work to be done to ensure that LGBT individuals are able to fully participate in the labor market without fear of discrimination or harm. (Simhoni)

Whether or not you have a dog in the fights of gay librarians being fired, you should be worried about the fact that a person was dismissed over what may possibly be a suppression of representation and free speech. This topic has been prevalent in the news the past year, and unless you consciously make an effort to educate yourself on these matters, you may be able to pass situations like this off as something for the common good.

I, for one, think there is an even darker, more devious goal in sight, and this suppression is just the beginning.

How do we combat discrimination and suppression of rights?

We can start by reading banned books. and by reading dystopian books before they are banned. Dystopian books have ways of making people think.

We can seek alternative points of view. We can make your own decisions based on what we have read, and we have read widely. We must remember that countries with active dictatorships began by isolating certain groups and banning access to alternative points of view.

Moody, Josh. “New College of Florida Abruptly Dismisses Librarian.” Inside Higher Ed | Higher Education News, Events and Jobs, 2023, Accessed 5 May 2023.

Shanee Simhoni. “Fact Sheet: LGBT Workers in the Labor Market.” Center for American Progress, Center for American Progress, June 2022, Accessed 5 May 2023.