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Audit seeks to open books on school libraries
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The California Joint Legislative Audit Committee has approved an audit request by Senator Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia) on a unanimous, bipartisan vote of 11 to 0 vote that seeks to determine whether California’s K-12 schools are providing the mandated services to students, and if those services are being provided by fully-trained, credentialed teacher librarians.

“I am concerned that schools throughout California are not providing the state’s K-12 school children statutorily-required library services staffed by a fully-credentialed teacher librarian,” said Senator Tony Mendoza. “My audit request requires the California State Auditor to examine school districts and county offices of education across the state to determine if they are meeting their statutory responsibilities to provide library services to every K-12 student.”

California is ranked last in the nation in the ratio of students to school librarians. A recent review of data provided by the California Department of Education shows that there are 30 county offices of education that have a teacher librarian on staff and 28 that do not, leaving a complete void in school library expertise in those offices and the schools they support.

“The California School Library Association is thrilled with the approval of this audit. We commend Senator Mendoza for his leadership on this issue. The fact that we are last in the nation in the ratio of students to fully-credentialed teacher librarians, with more than 7,000 students to 1 librarian, indicates there is much work to be done to get us to the level of academic success we envision with the Local Control Funding Formula. The research is overwhelming in California and the rest of the nation that the schools with fully-staffed libraries outperform those that are not fully-staffed,” said CSLA Legislative Advocate Jeff Frost.

A credentialed teacher librarian combines traditional teaching skills and expertise in information technology, digital literacy and media technologies. They are a classroom teacher’s instructional partner helping foster students' research, information literacy, technology, communication, and critical thinking skills. Common Core standards adopted by the state in 2010, requires students to be adept at accessing, evaluating and using content from websites, blogs, newspapers, reference books, online video and cable news.

“Gone are the days of the school librarian checking books out to students and teaching them how to do primary research using resources only accessible in the library. Fully-credentialed librarians are now information technology specialists who teach students how to use 21st Century tools to effectively access, evaluate and use content from a variety of on-line and offline sources,” said Senator Mendoza. “California’s students deserve to be taught by fully credentialed teachers and this includes fully-credentialed school librarians. They have the necessary training required to teach our students the 21st Century skills required by the state’s Common Core Standards.

“We must ensure that our school children are provided the best education possible so they can succeed academically. Fully-credentialed teacher librarians are a vital part of the equation,” added Mendoza.