I was quite disturbed to learn of proposed legislation that would exclude media specialists from proposed retirement legislation.  According to Betsy Razza, our GLMA Legislative “liaison” and “advocate”, HB 157  would allow:

… a retired teacher to return to full-time employment and continue to collect his or her full retirement benefit.  A certified teacher is defined in this bill as teaching pre-kindergarten through grade 12 employed by the public schools who has as his or her primary sole responsibility the academic instruction of students in a classroom.

An update we received this evening stated that counselors and media specialists (I guess because we are “S” or service personnel and not perceived as vital as classroom teachers?) were excluded to “save money.”  Sources with PAGE and GLMA believe that counselors will be included, but media specialists are still excluded.  

To view the proposed legislation:    
http://www.legis.state.ga.us/legis/2007_08/fulltext/hb157.htm

To even consider excluding us is shocking, insulting, and infuriating to me.  I arrive before most teachers do, and I am usually one of the last to leave.  I do not get a planning period or a fixed lunch; most days I am lucky to eat while I work at my computer at the circulation desk or between classes that we are teaching.  I might also add that you have to have at least a master’s degree to even *BE* a media specialist—this is not a requirement for classroom teachers!

This legislation implies that we are not “worthy” of the same benefits as teachers.  I can assure you that I work just as hard, if not harder, as a high school media specialist than I did as a classroom teacher (and that was pretty darn hard!).  We as media specialists teach just as classroom teachers do and work with many learners day in and day out in our libraries.  Qualified and talented media specialists are more important than ever in this age where information literacy is a requirement, not an option!

If you believe media specialists should be entitled to the same privileges as other educators, then please contact these legislators and voice your concerns.  Rep. Brooks Coleman is the author of this well-intended but misguided legislation.  Please contact him with your concerns and objections at:

brooks.coleman@house.ga.gov

At the Capitol:   404-656-9210

At his home:    770-476-4471

Remember these key points:

  • Georgia needs qualified school library media specialists to run our libraries.
  • There is already a shortage of fully certified school library media specialists  in rural areas that would affect staffing.
  • School library media specialists are certified educators by the Professional Standards Commission; our work impacts all areas of the curriculum.  We work collaboratively with classroom teachers to co-teach across the curriculum in all areas.

We are more instrumental than ever to public education, yet many legislators do not understand our value or importance.  Let us vocalize our concerns to our legislators so that they may have a better understanding of how vital we are to the education of children of all ages in Georgia.