My Turn, Lawrence Persinger Jr.: Where will children go?

Published 11:13 pm Sunday, June 10, 2018

I couldn’t agree more with Jennifer Hubbard’s My Turn column editorial concerning the “collapsing” of media coordinators and technology facilitators into one position (“Are schools giving up on literacy?” June 4).

How can anyone arrive at the conclusion that two full-time positions can be “optimized” into one full-time position? If a media coordinator takes the new combined position, it is reasonable to assume that he or she will be spending a massive amount of time getting schooled in the ins and out” of all the technology devices for which he or she will be responsible. So when does that person switch hats and become the media coordinator again?

And how long can that person be the media coordinator? Until the first three students come in to complain that this app won’t work, or they can’t get logged in? Or a teacher calls frantically wanting help because the Apple TV in their classroom won’t work?

As for the technology facilitators becoming media coordinators, is it not reasonable to assume that they will have much to learn about operating the media centers — including cataloging and collection development? And writing grants and sponsoring book fairs to raise funds to pay for books since the school district doesn’t support our media centers with any funding?

It is certainly true that some “optimization” of staff can always be accomplished after planning and having reasonable discussions about what that “optimization” will mean to the instructional programs at each school. I believe as the ultimate result of this “optimization,” media coordinators (and library classes) will be taken out of the daily instructional program at the affected schools. This in turn will mean that such things as robotics, coding, research skills, knowing how to find and assess information and the sources of that information, and the use of maker spaces to develop critical thinking and problem-solving, will be heaped upon the classroom teachers or will simply be tossed aside

As I retire, I am saddened to think that the generations of students who will be affected by this “optimization” will continue spending an inordinate amount of time looking at iPads and laptops, supposedly improving their literacy by “reading” mostly nonfiction articles (Achieve 3000 articles, for example.). I hope and pray that I am wrong. But I believe that this “optimization” will bring about under-utilization or operational closure of many school media centers.

Informational literacy is a wonderful and necessary skill, but I wonder how reading articles about the history of Legos or the technology behind solar farms will inspire future great writers and thinkers like Robert Frost, Maya Angelou and John Hart? Literary fiction nourishes the heart, lifts the spirit and drives our minds to develop the better parts of our humanity. When the media centers are dark, where will our children go and how will they grow?

Lawrence Persinger Jr. retires June 13 as media coordinator at Rockwell Elementary School.