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Children need media specialists in libraries to become lifelong learners

Re: Pinellas school district proposal to cut school media specialists

Children need media specialists

I have been volunteering in the media center at Mildred Helms Elementary every Wednesday for the past year. Prior to that, I volunteered one day per week at MacFarlane Park Magnet IB Elementary in Tampa for five years.

I would like to address the Pinellas County School Board's proposal to cut the media specialists. I have no vested interest in this because all of my children will be attending a charter school next year. My concern is for the majority of kids I encounter at the school whose parents are not going to fill this gap in their education.

1. Money. The schools will lose far more in destroyed/stolen/misplaced books and other media than a media specialist's salary and benefits.

2. Volunteers cannot run the media center. Most volunteers do not want to work in the library. Well-meaning volunteers who are not trained and do not know how the library is organized do more harm than good.

3. Children need to be taught how to use the library. Each year there are different skills that a child needs to learn to be able to effectively use the library. Children will not be prepared to perform valid research in high school and college if they do not learn these skills in elementary and middle school.

4. Fewer children will read proficiently. Younger children need help to find books that are interesting and challenging, but not too difficult, to read. Very few parents have the time, patience and knowledge to take their children to the public library and nurture independent reading. The reality is if the elementary schools do not teach children the skills to allow them to develop a love of reading, they will not become lifelong learners.

5. Fostering a desire to read independently is critical today with all the electronic distractions children have available. Children need to learn the skills necessary to allow them to confidently use the school and public libraries. They will not become critical, curious, and creative thinkers by merely sitting in class and passing the tests.

I do not believe the School Board fully appreciates the consequences of eliminating media specialists in elementary schools. Their impact on a vital part of each child's development as a person capable of independent, creative and critical thinking is immense.

Rebecca Alford, Belleair Beach

To all teachers: Hang in there

I am a 32-year veteran teacher from a large urban school system who received a "pink slip" four times in my first five years of teaching, stating "Your job has been terminated. Do not take this personally."

The first time, I felt degraded, ashamed, useless and depressed about the uncertainty of my professional future — after earning several advanced degrees (paid for out of my own pocket) so that I could be a better and more effective teacher.

Each time I was laid off, I was rehired within one year and put in a different school, teaching different grades, and most of the time teaching a subject with which I was unfamiliar and in which I was uninterested.

I am now retired, enjoying my retirement benefits — which I paid into!

My sympathy goes to the unfortunate teachers who have been singled out for layoff who have gotten enmeshed in the political machinations of a businessman turned politician.

My advice to all Florida teachers is to hang in there — or, if you live close to the Georgia state line, apply for a job there. Florida will never be able to function without each and every one of you.

I would like to point out that every doctor, lawyer, politician, person in any area of the workforce and every person who can read this letter are what they are and can do what they do because of the skill, encouragement and understanding of a teacher.

Jacqueline Savitz, Clearwater Beach

Re: 2 arrested after drug sting leads to crash story, May 16

Old ways aren't the best ways

A 22-year-old St. Petersburg man led authorities on a 3-mile pursuit. Two citizens were hurt in the chase, Dorothy and Michael Noonan.

I asked myself, isn't there a better way to pursue felons than to put police and citizens' lives in jeopardy? Haven't we lost enough good officers lately? And why should citizens be at risk? And why doesn't Pinellas County have the use of a helicopter?

It appears the authorities continue to do the same old things the same old way. If we used a helicopter, these criminals wouldn't have a chance to get away. The police could either allow them to run out of gas, use loudspeakers to announce to citizens there is an offender at large, or put up road blocks where needed.

Haven't we had enough loss? What is the cost compared to the loss?

Michele Shriver, Palm Harbor

Re: From Greenwood to Dartmouth

Student serves as a success story

Bennie Niles and his parents should be commended for the commitment to strive toward a good, clean life in the midst of the pressures they endure in Clearwater and in our society today. His situation is a great success story for every young person today. He is not only a good athlete but an excellent student.

One day your dream of becoming a doctor will be attained if you keep on track. My congratulations to you in your future endeavors.

John Halliday, Clearwater

>>Your voice counts

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Children need media specialists in libraries to become lifelong learners 05/21/11 [Last modified: Saturday, May 21, 2011 9:52am]
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