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United States Public Schools Can No Longer Afford Librarians

Posted on July 9, 2018 in Education Education News Public Education Public School

Federal data has revealed United States public schools are unable to afford librarians. Schools have lost nineteen percent of their librarians from 1999 through 2000 and from 2015 through 2016. This is the largest decrease since the 2008 Great Recession. The minority districts have taken the hardest hits. 75 percent of all districts retaining their librarians have been white since 2005. The librarians lost in the twenty districts comprised populations of 78 percent students of color. The library sector in the public schools has not come back and minorities are being hit the hardest.

The loss in certain states was worse. Florida has 67 school districts. There has been a 27 percent drop in librarians since 2005. Some school districts have no librarians left. There are libraries being run by paraprofessionals but the cost begins at $14.60 each hour. Budget cuts are decimating librarians with Master’s degrees. They are being replaced with less qualified positions. School administrators have risen 28 percent, instructional aides 19 percent and counselors 11 percent. The hope is administrative positions will be available for the unemployed librarians. Support staff decreased from 46,000 to less than 26,000. This is a decrease of 45 percent occurring at the same time there was a decrease of 20 percent in the librarians. For additional details please visit https://www.forbes.com/sites/adamrowe1/2018/05/21/u-s-public-schools-have-lost-20-of-their-librarians-since-2000/#f2e8245ce54d.

It is hard to use data to pinpoint what the future impact will be from the loss of librarians in public schools. Recent studies have revealed the academics of the students are negatively impacted. A 2011 nationwide study showed the reading scores of 4th grade students dropped when the librarians were lost. A study conducted in 2012 focused on Colorado. The correlation was very similar. From 2005 until 2011 the schools with endorsed librarians or those that maintained their librarians had more students achieving an advanced reading level. The performance of these students increased much more than the students in schools with no librarian or that had lost their librarian.