Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Gov't Investment in Library Books "Puts Cart Before the Horse"

TORONTO, Jan. 27 /CNW/ - Spending millions of dollars on library books
for elementary schools when there is a critical shortage of teacher-librarians
is a misguided investment in student literacy, says Elementary Teachers'
Federation of Ontario (ETFO) President David Clegg.

Clegg was responding to the provincial government's announcement of a
'$15 million library book investment'.

"This truly is a classic example of putting the cart before the horse,"
said Clegg.

"Library books alone will not build student literacy. Teacher-librarians
have the skills and training to ensure that library resources are used in the
most effective way possible. They work with classroom teachers to provide
subject-specific, age-appropriate, and curriculum-related reading materials
for every class. And, they teach students how to find, critically assess, and
organize information."

Clegg notes that despite the government's current focus on literacy, few
elementary schools are staffed with a full-time teacher-librarian whose role
is to help students with literacy and research skills. (According to People
for Education's '2008 Annual Report on Ontario Public Schools', only 60 per
cent of elementary schools have a teacher-librarian, most of them part-time.)

Currently, an elementary school must have over 750 students to qualify
for funding for a teacher-librarian. Most elementary schools fall far short of
this number.

"Our students deserve the best. However, they are being disadvantaged by
the current approach to investing in elementary education," said Clegg.

The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario represents 73,000
elementary public school teachers and education workers across the province
and is the largest teacher federation in Canada.

For further information: David Clegg, President, ETFO, (416) 962-3836
(Office); Larry Skory, ETFO Communications, (416) 962-3836 (Office), (416)

948-0195 (Cell)