Saturday, November 08, 2014

#NYLA2014 : Q & A with Commissioner King

Commisioner John KingSpeaking in this session were NYLA President Sara Kelly Johns, NY State Librarian Bernie Margolis and Commission John King.

Commissioner King started his remarks talking about activities around the common core and summer reading program.  There have been great collaborative efforts in both area.

Forthcoming opportunities for collaboration:
  • New framework for social studies is being released
  • Bring attention to the diverse roles that libraries can play, e.g., educator, community space, informer.
  • The NYSED will continue to advocate for various types of library aid, as well as helping districts to understand how to use their funding.  Can collaborate on local messaging around advocacy.  NYSED advocates for libraries at the federal level.
In the common core, research is an important area of emphasis.  There is a new guidance document coming to schools on research, including information on the information fluency continuum.  Look for resources in EngageNY web site.

"Appreciating the text as art and the writer as artist." - Quote from the Commissioner as he talked about the common core.

Questions - easy and tough - for the Commissioner:

We know that you read to your children, what do you read?  Any tips?  They read a lot of Percy Jackson.  He does a lot of audio books.  Need to celebrate reading and learning at all times.   Libraries and schools need to feed our children's love of reading.

Books that are informing his view on education?
  • "Smartest kids in the world" - one of the major differences is how we prepare our teachers.  Finland, for example, created national standards around the education of teachers.  A systemic approach.  Poland has also made great strides for raising the standards for entering the teaching profession.
  • "Leadership without easy answers" - he reread this book every summer.
Libraries are seldom specifically mentioned in the education reform agenda.  What roles do you see libraries playing?  In NYS, the NYSED oversees education and cultural heritage organizations, which is not what happens in other common core states.  Therefore, the NYSED looks for opportunities to connect libraries to the common core, e.g., the Uncommon Approach to the Common Core.

The role of the State Library in the reform agenda?  Trying to find ways of providing access to NY State Library resources, as part of the common core.  

The data shows that school, public and academic librarians are needed more.  What should librarians be doing? (Not exactly how this was worded.). School librarians need to be working with teaching teams.  They need to be on the team.  Teachers need to see them as resources.  Teachers need  time in order to create collaborations.

In our communities,  there is a struggle with making library resources available.  It can come down to aid and funding.  Need equitable access.  Our libraries need a steady investment.

What about the role of academic libraries?  Most of his peers do not have a role in higher education.  Need to make sure that our higher education programs are taking advantage of library resources.  Review new academic programs for that.  Our academic programs need to be forward thinking in how they educate students, who are our future workers.  Need to make resources available across institutions.

In teacher preparation programs, future teachers need to understand how to use library resources and partner with librarians.

What do you suggest that universities do to prepare future school librarians to succeed? Understand how educators work with all types of learners, e.g., English language learners.  Everyone needs to know how to teach every type of student.

He gave a great example of preparing teachers for things we assume they know, like parent-teacher conferences.  So...need to know how to engage the community as partners.

School librarians need to understand how to support student success.  Principals need to understand how librarians be involved.

How will the NYSED help the libraries' fiscal distress?  They will advocate for increase in school aid, which should help protect school libraries.  They will advocate for increased library aid and construction aid. NYSED needs help at the local level with advocacy efforts.  Libraries need to make sure that elected officials understand what libraries do.

He mention an "Atlantic" magazine video piece on libraries.

What can we do insure/ensure that there are more information literate students?  
  • The information fluency continuum and the common core.  Support teachers in making a shift to these things.
  • Help teachers use the library to find and use nonfiction text.
  • Help teachers with constructing research projects for their classes.
  • Help students receive education in order to navigate the digital world.  For example, how do you evaluate the validity of a source?
Sara Kelly Johns - digital natives understand how to search, but not how to research.

How important is it for libraries to form partnerships?  Essential and critical to our long term success. Non-library organizations - community-based organizations - need to see the library as a potential partner. Look for natural partnerships.

What roles to you see library systems playing?  We aren't always strategic about leveraging existing resources.  One role of library systems is to ensure that resources are available across libraries (resource sharing).  They can help to creat partnerships.  They can advance the strategic vision for libraries in NYS.

Margolis notes that systems need a heightened political awareness.  Ordinary people don't understand what systems do.

Libraries love the fact that research is encouraged in the common core.  However, it is possible to strengthen the language so that classroom teachers are encouraged or required to collaborate with librarians?  Yes. There is an upcoming opportunity for teachers and school librarians to update/upgrade the modules.  

What is being done to ensure that school district follow state mandates on school libraries?  There can be an appeal to NYSED, when a district is not complying.  (310 appeal) However, we're in a fiscal environment where schools grapple with what is the "floor" for quality education.  We are in an environment of scarce resources.  

The bond that was passed this week - any general comments?  Need to ensure that the investments are made in a smart way.  Need to define how the resources can be used.  Need to flesh out guidance for the school districts.  However, we need to tackle the issue of bandwidth and infrastructure.  It needs to be a priority.

Question about expanding the regulation around librarians in K-12 education.  What is the best way of working toward that goal?  We're Ina tough environment.  We done have the resources in place to do all of the things that are important.  Need to highlight the success of schools with librarians in elementary education.  The Regents believe that is would be good for all schools to have libraries, but should it be set up as a competing resource for funding?  The Governor and Legislature need to balance competing demands.

Children need a literacy rich pre-K environment.

Closing comments - Commissioner King is thankful for what we (librarians) do every day.  He knows first hand in how libraries can change lives and communities.  He encourages us to collaborate.

No comments: