The president is not immune…

I am a day late in posting, in part because this is the second day I have had to run my media center and media program alone. Because the enrollment numbers at my school did not support the number of “teaching assistants” my principal was required to reassign the last two paraprofessionals hired. My clerk was one of those two.

My principal tried diligently to get our Human Resources department to understand that the media clerk has a specialized set of skills required to do the job. The county in which I work has invested time and money into the media clerk so that s/he can properly operate the software, troubleshoot the equipment, organize the reams of paperwork involved in spending State funds, process incoming materials for circulation, and in all ways assist in the clerical operation of a very busy media center. I sent an email to my superiors that included a laundry list of the daily activities performed by my media clerk that required specialized training and a specialized skill set. I pleaded with them to consider her skills and the amount of training that would be required for a new assistant with no software/hardware skills to take over. I begged them to understand that service to every student, teacher, and staff member was going to be adversely affected. My communication was met with disdain (to put it mildly) and my clerk was reassigned. My principal is doing everything she can to make sure that the replacement has at least some of the required skills but since we must take someone from within our school there is no guarantee. Oh, and did I mention that my budget was also cut 62%?

What does this mean to the rest of you throughout Georgia? Your membership, your voice, and your advocacy are more important now than ever. I am one person in one media center but I am sitting in one of the highest per-capita income areas in the State. What happens to programs in smaller or rural districts when the penny is pinched this tightly and your superiors do not see the value in you, your clerk, or even your program? Who stands up for you? Who speaks for you?

In spite of everything, I still believe in the power of public education to change lives. I still believe that my mission is to positively affect student achievement. I still believe that advocacy is paramount to personal security. I still believe there are librarians and media specialists out there who spend every day making a difference in the lives of the students, teachers, and staff they serve. I still believe that, ultimately, the school system personnel WANT students to succeed and they are doing what they believe is the right thing and in the best interests of students and staff. It’s not working out so well for me right now but that is not going to stop me from speaking out, from advocating for my program, or from my willingness to put my neck on the chopping block for what I believe.

Pay your membership dues, folks. Be a part of this organization not just with your check but with your voice. And remember, “Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak up for me.”

Susan Grigsby, President of GLMA

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About susangrigsby

I am the District Media Specialist on Special Assignment with Forsyth County Schools, Georgia. In August, 2017 I will become the middle and high school librarian at the United World College of Southeast Asia (East Campus) in Singapore.

Posted on September 9, 2009, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Tina: When a system does this it makes me wonder… Do they realize they are either (a) violating Georgia Code by not giving you a duty-free lunch every day – and how could they if you are by yourself in the media center or (b) violating Georgia Code that says the media center must be open throughout the school day. Why has the Georgia Code been written if there is no enforcement? Do systems get to pick and choose which Code statement to which they will adhere? This is the problem with Perdue’s mantra of “local control.” In reality, local control translates to rampant violations of Georgia Code to the detriment of the system’s employees and, ultimately, their students.

  2. THANK YOU to you and every GA LMS for all you do for students and for Georgia education – stay strong.

  3. Susan,

    I fully understand how difficult it is for you to run your media program alone. My school district cut all of our media assistants. So no matter the size of the school there is no clerk. So all of our elementary and middle schools are adjusting to running our programs alone – high schools have two media specialists (and two media centers at each). It has been a difficult year already and I feel that I spend much of my time doing the tasks that were performed by my assistant. It leaves little time to plan, teach lessons, etc. I say all of this in hopes that other media specialists will be proactive and let their administrators know how valuable media clerks are to their programs. As budget cuts are made, more districts may choose to do the same thing.

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