Debatable Topic #8: Who Wins…Reconsideration Policy or Administrative Mandate?
Many of the students I teach in our M.Ed. in School Library Media program and our Certification Add-on program are practicing school library media specialists. Two of the requirements in our Selections course are the creation of a strong selection policy and reconsideration of materials policy. As we work on these projects, we discuss the need for a solid reconsideration/challenged materials policy that will bring consistency and reason to the challenge process. We emphasize that this policy should apply across the board, to any individual who has a question about an item being appropriate for the collection.
As I taught the course we offer in Selections recently, I was somewhat surprised to learn that more than a few of the practicing media specialists have had an experience where an administrator (i.e., principal, superintendent, board of education member) gave a directive for a certain title to be removed from the collection without going through due process required by the reconsideration policy. While the media specialists felt that proper protocol should be followed no matter the challenger, they also felt that the request from the superior should be upheld.
The question is: should the media specialist abide by the approved policy, or submit to the request of the superior? Most of us would immediately indicate that policy is set for all, no matter the rank or position. However, if placed in this precarious position, the directive of the superior is expected to be followed.
This type of situation is a good example of how imperative it is for our administration in the schools to be aware of, and participate in, media program development and implementation. In many cases across the state of Georgia, the media specialist is the soul voice to champion library services and policy. When the administration views the media program as a most viable and needed component in the school environment, policy set by the media specialist will be seen as authoritative and necessary. It is up to us to gain that position of respect and recognition from all of the players in our schools, including administration and superiors. When that is accomplished, perhaps such issues as this will not occur!
(Topic next month will be on document cam recordings turned podcast!)
Dr. Phyllis Snipes
University of West Georgia