Sunday, December 11, 2011

Craft Day 2011!

I love this event! This was my final year chairing Craft Day at my son's school. My job was to choose and organize 8 easy and fun winter crafts for kids in grades K-5. I will miss working with my PTA co-chairs, all the dedicated volunteers, and of course, the kids. This after school PTA event gives students the opportunity to make fun winter crafts, and is a special tradition at our school. It's especially important to provide arts enrichment activities this year because art class has been drastically cut from the elementary school curriculum. And kids rarely make crafts in class anymore, since teachers must follow a structured schedule which does not allow much time for hands on activities like arts and crafts. (Thanks to high stakes testing, budget cuts, and curriculum changes approved by all Allentown School Board Directors) The collage table was especially busy. Older students from Trexler MS and Allen HS helped.
Photos by Gianni Villa

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Library Class Should Never Have Been Cut

  • "We have good evidence that quality school libraries can mitigate the effects of poverty. Two recent studies, one in California and another involving students from 40 countries, have shown that access to a good school library has a large positive effect on reading test scores, about as large as the effect of poverty." Dr. Stephen Krashen

  • "Children of poverty also have very little access to books at home and in their communities, with less access to good public libraries and bookstores. Once again, school is not helping: Children of poverty attend schools with poorly supported classroom libraries and school libraries. Studies confirm that less access to books means lower reading achievement, which makes sense in view of findings that show that self-selected reading is a powerful predictor of reading achievement." Dr. Stephen Krashen
Above taken from "Children need food, healthcare, and books. Not new standards and tests" Here's a link:

According to a report in The Morning Call: http://www.mcall.com/news/local/allentown/mc-allentown-schools-librarian-shortage-20111202,0,4112472.story "Allentown School District's head librarian says curriculum changes and layoffs have depleted staff and left the district's library system in a "state of crisis." Parents should be outraged over these cuts, which were unanimously approved by Allentown school board directors. Why on earth would anyone approve of further depriving poor children access to books at school?

Libraries in two inner city elementary schools are now being used as classrooms, due to overcrowding. 4 librarians must now service 15 schools. Underpaid (they get $11,200 per school year, starting salary), papraprofessionals (aides) must take books to classrooms on carts. The paras must provide support for teachers who need books for their classrooms. At the elementary schools that have libraries, the paras must conduct book circulation and teach mini lessons about the library. The teacher stays with the class during these short 20 minute library sessions, offered about every two weeks to students. The students get to take out books once every two-three weeks, but they only have library science class with a certified teacher- librarian 9 times per school year.

These harmful cuts and teacher lay offs were approved by our school board, while new administrators were hired at more than double the salary of a teacher. Some of these administrators do not have backgrounds in education.

School librarians are certified teachers who plan with classroom teachers, do extensive curriculum work, co-teach, present professional development, maintain the physical library as well as virtual resources, teach classes, organize school book fairs and after school programs for parents and students, organize special programs that bring authors to the school, etc. etc.

Parents, please demand that our certified school librarians are re-hired and returned to our schools, where we need them. For many disadvantaged students, their only frame of reference is school. If the school does not value the library, neither will the kids. Many parents in the ASD do not take their children to the public library on a regular basis, so these children need a quality library program at school. Library class should NEVER be cut or reduced from the curriculum. ASD must cut the testing, and the needless over paid administrators. ASD must re-hire teachers, and start focusing on the real needs of our children, if we truly want them to become life long learners. Demand equality in public education.