This is the third year I have been pulling the Minnesota Department of Education data and studying the slow decline of school library media specialists in our twelve county region. I have no answers for fixing this problem, but sharing the data is my attempt to engage people in helping me think of solutions. If there is inadequate media specialist staffing in high schools, are students going to be prepared with the skills they need to be successful in college? Will middle schoolers be prepared to do high school work, and when students have no library program at school, are they simply going to the public library for assistance? Are the public libraries funded or staffed to absorb this work on a large scale? Everyone is stretched for resources, so we all need to do our part. So, without further ado, here is data for Aitkin, Benton, Chisago, Isanti, Kanabec, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Pine, Sherburne, Stearns, Todd and Wright counties. Please use the comment field in this post as needed.
- 53 individual schools (28 percent) in Central MN have no licensed media specialist (compared to 48 last year)
- 25 schools (47 percent) percent of the 53 schools are middle, secondary or high schools
- 28 elementary schools have no media specialist, yet we are hell bent on demonstrating reading proficiency by 3rd grade!
- Fourteen of our school districts have no media specialist in any school in the district at all (compared to nine last year)
- The great news is that 32 percent of our schools have a full time media specialist. Let’s applaud those school administrators for understanding the value of maintaining a professionally staffed media center.
CMLE will use this data in its advocacy work, in targeting its programming, and in working statewide to bring attention to this growing problem. We all need to think about how we can change this trend so that all students have the benefit of a well-maintained, relevant, and properly staffed school media center.