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TEACHER LIBRARIANS IN NSW

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Website and Content
Created and Maintained by: A.B. Credaro

Page Updated December 19, 2007


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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.
Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
[Margaret Mead]

May 11, 2007: In order to clarify the wide range of 'customs and practices', workload issues, the difficulties created at local level in achieving acknowledged Best Practice, the contemporary role of Teacher Librarians in 21st Century education (as opposed to expectations based on "Historical Precident"), Amanda Credaro submitted a request for clarification to the Manager, Library and Information Services, NSW Department of Education and Training.

Read the textRead Working Conditions for NSW DET Secondary Libraries:Submission and Response The response has now been removed after further discussions with the author indicated that the document was not intended for publication. (More information via the link)

However, the response was not 'definitive' or 'conclusive'; local conditions and resulting inequities for students in maximising educational outcomes are determined by a school's principal; notably without any requirement for accountability in the NSW government's 2,600 public schools.


PHONE-A-FRIEND? ASK-THE-AUDIENCE? 50/50?


Attention: The Hon. John Della Bosca,

Minister for Education and Training

Email  office@smos.nsw.gov.au 

Fax: (02) 9228 4392

 

Attention: Mr Andrew Stoner,

Shadow Minister for Education and Training

Email  oxley@parliament.nsw.gov.au 

Fax: (02) 6563 1355

 

June 23, 2007

Re: Request for Assistance in Maximising the Use of Resources to Optimise Educational and Social Outcomes in NSW Government Schools

 

Dear Sirs,

 

I note with increasing concern the escalating negative impact of the great degree of latitude allowed under  “Principal’s Discretionary Powers”, particularly in regard to the work of Teacher Librarians in NSW government schools. 

 

It is often stated that we live in an “Information Age”, where the ability to locate, assess and utilise information is not only necessary for academic success, but also for the progression into the workforce, and beyond as a citizen. The delivery of those skills has always been, and always will be, central to the work of Teacher Librarians.

 

In addition, we are all aware of the importance of the continual attention that is required to maximise the literacy of not only our students, but also the wider community.  In the provision of recreational reading materials (as opposed to standard texts relating to specific subjects) – which research has shown may well be the most effective way to instil an appreciation of the finer points of English, and thus lift literacy levels  – is also obviously central to the work of Teacher Librarians.

[This part has been edited for brevity] >>>
Therefore I would request:

  • Financial Support for Libraries by way returning to at least partial tied funding
  • Appropriate Personnel Support for Libraries through the publication of Guidelines to assist principals in making informed decisions
  • Revisit and Revise previous DET Determinations relating to libraries in order to achieve parity of working conditions for library staff at all schools
  • Financial recognition of the level of responsibility, the importance of the role, and the enormity of the workload of Teacher Librarians

(The first three of the four would not have any additional financial implications whilst still assist in maximising educational outcomes)


Whilst recognising that the Director-General has recently released a statement to the effect that ‘financial rationalisation’ is required across the whole Department of Education and Training,  I would request that an investigation into the issue denying Teacher Librarians being awarded Head Teacher status. Currently, the only pathway to such achievement generally is to reduce their attention to the core duties as a Teacher Librarian (by assuming additional responsibilities not related to the school’s library) and often to completely abandon their profession as a Teacher Librarian. The economic rationalism is no doubt necessary, but can Public Education afford this loss, which cannot be measured in dollar terms?

 

Amanda Credaro, JP

B.Sc., Grad. Dip.Ed., M.Applied Science (Teacher Librarianship), M.Ed. (IT in Education)

Private and work addresses and contact details included in actual transmission.

View the companion websiteView the companion page to read the entire letter, which requests a committed funding base, guarantee of adequate support staff, an investigation into the status of Teacher Librarians, and a review of DET policies for school libraries.

Read the textRead the Response from the Minister's Office (June 29, 2007)

Read the textRead the Response to the determination made "on behalf of the Minister" (August 30, 2007):" ... Minister, I am greatly disappointed. I did not contact you for the purposes of [you] delegating an officer of the Department to quote policies and memoranda. I raised concerns that are shared with many of my 2000-plus colleagues ..."

Read the textRead the Fax to the Minister, on progress to date (September 22, 2007): "... To date, it appears that reference has been made only to the latitude created by the same policies and practices that have created the inequities ..."

Read the textRead the response from the Minister's Office (October 8, 2007): " ... the matters raised by you have been noted and are presently receiving attention ...". Compare this to the response from the Leader of the Opposition, written the same day.

Read the textRead second letter written On Behalf of the Minister (October 9, 2007): " ... as advised in my letter to you of 11 September 2007 ... your information and comments have been provided to the Industial Relations Directorate to inform any future discussions on this matter."

Read the textRead the response to the above (October 20, 2007) and copied to the Minister and the Leader of the Opposition: " ... Tied funding, issuing of guidelines, and revision of outdated an irrelevant policies cannot be rationally considered to be 'industrial issues' ..."

Read the textRead third letter written On Behalf of the Minister (November 9, 2007): " ... as indicated in the previous response ..."

Read the textRead the response to the above (November 18 2007) and copied to the Minister: " ... I am unable to locate any cogent rationale for the apparent decision ..."


The NSW SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION AND TRAINING

July 3, 2007: Phoned the Shadow Minister's Electral Office regarding nil response. Personnel undertook to contact Mr Stoner at his parliamentary office. No time frame indicated. No response as at July 7, 2007.

Read the textRead the 2nd Letter to Andrew Stoner (July 7, 2007): The letter closes with "On behalf of the 2,400 Teacher Librarians working in NSW government schools, the 60,000-odd classroom teachers who rely on Teacher Librarians for teaching and learning support, and the 740,000 students enrolled in the Public Education system, I thank you in advance for your time and attention to these issues. "

July 10, 2007: Reply received from Andrew Stoner's office. Reads in total "Thank you for providing a copy of your email to the Minister for Education. In that correspondence you have highlighted a number of issues of concern. I hope that the Minister will promptly satisfactorily respond to the matters raised and would be interested in a copy of his response."

Read the textRead the RESPONSE to Andrew Stoner's repy as shown above.




MR BARRY O'FARRELL, LEADER OF THE NSW OPPOSITION

Read the textRead the email (July 22, 2007) to the NSW Liberal Party Leader, regarding the lack of proactivity from the Education and Training Shadow Minister. Includes " ... Incidentally, you may also be interested to know that our "American Cousins" have raised similar concerns, and that the US Congress undertook a bipartisan approach to resolving this: See the SKILLs Act press release" ...

Read the textRead the reply from the Leader of the NSW Opposition (August 6, 2007): " ... restoration of tied-funds, establishment of guidelines for the allocation of support staff [for libraries], a review of the 20% Administration Time, and the status of Teacher Librarians will be included in our policy development process."

Read the textRead the fax sent to the Leader of the NSW Opposition (August 30, 2007): " ... Myself, and similarly concerned colleagues amongst the state’s 2000-plus Teacher Librarians in NSW government schools, are greatly heartened by your undertaking to address the issues previously listed as part of your policy development process. However, I’d like to ask why wait another three years? Why not use this opportunity ..."

Read the textRead the next fax to the Leader of the NSW Opposition (September 23, 2007): " ... it may be of interest to note that many non-DET schools have similar concerns regarding plumbing - but notably do still manage to strive towards supporting their school libraries to achieve Best Practice through ..."

Read the textRead the response signed by the Leader of the Opposition (October 8, 2007): " ... please contact me again if you are unhappy with the response you receive ... thank you again for your comments and I appreciate you keeping me informed about teacher librarians"

Read the textRead the communication (October 20, 2007): " ... the issues of concern are not 'industrial' in nature, but professional issues relating to the provision of equality in opportunities for maximising educational outcomes for the 760,000 students enrolled in Public Education in NSW ..."

Read the textRead the letter from the Leader of the Opposition (October 23, 2007): "The situation that teacher librarians are facing in NSW is one that I feel strongly about. While I will endevour to continue to raise the general issue I recognise the important role of libraries in our schools ...

Read the textRead the faxed response (November 18 2007): " ... incidentally, in the last week another three [NSW Teacher Librarians] have announced their intention to resign from the Department - largely due to those very same four issues that ..."

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Read the textQuestions on Notice (June 27, 2007): MLR Dr John Kaye (Greens Party) presented this document (pages 135-136 extracted here) on behalf of all Teacher Librarians. The questions arose from the issues raised by Georgia Phillips in consultation with other informed and concerned Teacher Librarians, as part of the NSW Green's Education Working Group.

View the Answers given in ParliamentView the answers given in Parliament (Hansard Online): School Library Services | Primary Teacher Librarians | School Library Catalogues | Internet Filtering


CONTACTING THE LOCAL MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT

Read the textRead the letter to Paul Gibson (June 28, 2007)

July 2, 2007: The Sitting Member for Blacktown, Paul Gibson, was phoned, with the request that he follow-up on the submission above at top. An undertaking was given that this would happen, but it would not go "to the floor" of parliament due to the NSW State Parliamentary Processes. No time frame was indicated. No response was received by July 9, 2007.

Read the textRead the 2nd letter to Paul Gibson (July 9, 2007); includes a reference to the NSW DET Corporate Plan. In the 'seven guiding principles', there is an explicit statement regarding equity for all students. As of July 22, 2007 no further contact from Mr Gibson.

Read the textRead the 3rd letter to Paul Gibson (July 22, 2007); expressing concern over lack of progress and referring to the (USA) bipartisan approach to the SKILLs Act.

Read the textRead the fax sent to Paul Gibson (August 6, 2007), in response to his phone call requesting further information. Note also the request to Mr Gibson asking him to inform The NSW Premier that not one Teacher Librarian could be found whose Principal had mentioned receipt of The Premier's letter to them, acknowledging the work of Teacher Librarians.

Read the textRead letter from Paul Gibson (August 7, 2007): " ... I wish to advise you that I have made representation on your behalf to The Hon. John Della Bosca MLC, Minister for Education, concerning the forenamed matter ..."

Read the textRead letter from Paul Gibson (August 20, 2007): " ... Enclosed herewith is correspondence I have received from the Minister ..."

Read the textRead the attachment from the Minister's office on the progress (August 16, 2007): " ...The matters raised by you have been noted and are currently receiving attention ..."

Read the textRead the email sent on August 28 2007: In response to the "official response" sent on August 21 2007 (see Ministerial Investigation below).

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THE PREMIER OF NSW
(
Morris Iemma)

July 4, 2007

Dear Premier,

Are you aware that the NSW Department of Education and Training is altering your quotes on their website?

10 days ago, I contacted your Minister for Education and Training in relation to broad concerns regarding Teacher Librarians in NSW DET schools (but no response has yet been received).

Subsequent to that, I noticed that on the DET's Premier's Reading Challenge (PRC) website report for 2006 you had been quoted as saying "I am extremely grateful to the classroom teachers, public librarians, parents and carers who have played such an integral role in encouraging young people to read and enjoy quality literature."

Myself and other Teacher Librarians were very concerned that Teacher Librarians (both in government and non-government schools) - who are largely responsible for the success of the Premier's Reading Challenge, did not rate a mention. This was discussed though our Professional Electronic Network.

However, it is noted that on the 3rd July at 2.02pm 2007, your quote (in the 2006 PRC Report) had been changed to include Teacher Librarians in your thanks. The DET website can be found HERE.
[View a screenshot taken on July 4, 2007 here]

However, the Google cached version, captured on 12 May 2007, shows the original content of the DET webpage - which notably excludes the mention of Teacher Librarians.

You can locate the Google cached version here or here.
[View a screenshot taken on July 4, 2007 here. Note the relevant section marked with a red arrow.]

In the event that either of these pages should change - again- I am able to supply screen shots of the relevant sections, which include a date and time stamp.

Mr Iemma, at a time when our Teacher Librarianship profession is at one of the lowest ebbs in morale for many decades, may I request a statement that I may freely circulate to my colleagues to assure them of your attention not only to this particular matter, but also to those other matters previously referred to Mr Della Bosca?

I thank you for your attention.

Amanda Credaro [private address included in the original]

Read the textRead the correspondence that followed (July 4, 2007), notably not from the Premier himself. Also note that all text formatting is exactly as received, including the red text and the boxed borders. (The text starts with the response to the email shown below it.)

View the companion websiteView the companion WLW-PRC website for a full understanding of the wider national context, and a summary of the outcomes to date.

Read the textRead the response from the NSW Premier (August 1, 2007). As at August 25 2007, no Principal has acknowledged receipt of the Minister's letter to any Teacher Librarian ...

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COLLEGIAL ADVOCACY (Used here with permission)

Read the textRead correspondence from a K-6 Teacher Librarian to the School's Principal (July 2, 2007): "... In view of recent publicity regarding performance-based pay, I have decided to compare my role with that of other teachers. Because principals, by and large, have no personal experience in teacher-librarianship, I am not sure that they would be strong advocates for teacher-librarians, in comparison to other teachers, who are employed in other teaching positions ...

Read the textRead the correspondence from a Victorian Secondary Teacher Librarian, to the Committee of SLAV (July 5, 2007): "... As a parent with four children aged one to six, I find it appalling that I can not send my kids to a local state primary school that has a qualified library professional on staff. The responses I have received from the schools' executive demonstrate it does not seem a situation of great concern ...

Read the textRead email from Kerry Neary to ALL Queensland politicians (July 23 to August 5): "... What is the Queensland Government doing to acknowledge the latest research into the effective involvement of school libraries in the curriculum in improving student learning outcomes? ... "

Read the textRead the listserv posting from Dona Hartwich (August 4, 2007); reporting on a recent union meeting and response at same regarding Teacher Librarians.

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RESPONSES TO OTHER CORRESPONDENCE

Many thanks to colleagues for allowing these documents to be shared here.

Read the textThe response received by Crys Mills (June 18 2007): From the Minister of Education, forwarded to John Watkins, Deputy Premier and Member for Ryde,("retired" from politics September 3 2008) and subsequently forwarded to Crys Mills.
Attachments Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3 | Page 4


IS THIS A MINISTERIAL INVESTIGATION?

August 10 2007: Two hour meeting with two senior officers of the NSW Department of Education and Training to provide clarification and further details of concerns addressed to the Minister on June 23 2007. The hand-written notes of the meeting were copied and given to A.B. Credaro "to check for accuracy and provide any further information".


Read the textSee a sample of the handwritten notes: A.B. Credaro phoned the author of the notes on Monday 13th August 2007, apologising for being unable to read the notes and requesting instead access to the draft of the report.

Read the textRead the email sent on August 22 2007 requesting a typed copy of the notes

August 24 2007 (approx 11am): Another phone call was made, requesting access to the "draft report". It was revealed that there was no written report, and that the information had already been passed on verbally.

Read the textRead the typed copy of the notes: Received at 3.28pm on Friday 24th August 2007.

Read the textSee the annotated attachment of 25th August: attached to an email that reads in part:
... thanks for sending the typed version of the written notes through to me yesterday. I have attached here a copy of your notes which I have annotated as per your requested on 10th August. (Your text in black, mine is coloured)...I'm aware of the tight time frames for Ministerial Enquiries, so if the contents of your notes have already gone to Trish Kelly's office en route to the Minister, would it be appropriate for me to forward my annotated document direct to the Minister himself?

Read the textRead Page 1 of the Official Response from the DET: "...on behalf of the Minister", dated 21st August, received 28th August 2007.

Read the textRead Page 2 of the Official Response from the DET: "...on behalf of the Minister", dated 21st August, received 28th August 2007.

Read the textRead the Response CC'd to the author of the determination made "on behalf of the Minister" (August 30, 2007): " ... the only pathway to formal recognition of the work that the Premier states that he values so highly is, ironically, to either reduce their attention to their valuable work, or abandon it entirely ..."

Read the textRead the second email to The Determinator (August 31 2007): "...Further to my fax last night, I feel I must express a degree of dismay at your reference to Teacher Librarians as being " ... teachers with library qualifications ..." Ms Kelly, could I draw your attention to the vast body of evidence that demonstrates that Teacher Librarians are not merely "teachers with library qualifications" - unless so confined by their employment conditions ...

Read the textRead the response from the Determinator (September 11 2007): "...I have provided your information and comments to the Industrial Relations Directorate to inform any future discussions on this matter."

Read the textRead the next letter (November 9 2007): "...the matters ...were referred to the areas within the Department that have responsibility for each issue ..."

Read the textRead the response to the letter above (November 18 2007): "...The Minister himself would appear to be the only individual within state parliament with the authority to address the ineequities of opportunities for the 760,000 students enrolled in public education ..."

Read the textRead the next letter (December 6 2007): "...I can assure you that before any changes are made to employment conditions ..."

Read the textRead the response to the letter above (December 19 2007): "...The decisions which principals are routinely making - without any requirement for accountability, nor consideration of the impact of their decisions - are already "impacting on people's employment conditions", without the input of the Industrial Relations Directorate ... May I ask if there is a timeframe for those "future discussions"?"


Read the textThe End? Dated January 29 2008, does this 'final' response contain the resolution to the issues, the answers to all the previous questions, or consider an ultimate result of The Investigation? " ... any further correspondence from you on this matter will be filed without response."

Which Option?
The New (September 2008) Minister for Education and Training
The Watchdog for Investigations of Government Departments
The most effective and most impartial forum in the land, The Court of Public Opinion


NEW SOUTH WALES TEACHERS FEDERATION

Read the textA circular from the NSW Teachers Federation (August 13, 2007); noting " ... It has come to Federation's attention that ..." and a campaign will start next term. Attached to the circular was a copy of the IRC document, signed by Peter Riordan on 29th July, 2005.

[Note: A.B. Credaro first communicated her concerns (specifying examples and requesting support to address issues that were the direct result of Principals' Discretionary Powers) in writing to NSWTF on 30th March, 2007. The Nominated Federation Officer, indicated in the circular, was phoned on 24th August 2007. The Nominated Federation Officer was not aware of any of the contents shown above on this web page, nor any concerns directly related to the specific school identified as a "case study".]

Update: As at September 17 2008, there has been no campaign or further information from the Union.


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Page last updated September 17 2008