In addition to being a librarian, I am also a long-time school board member. Whenever feasible, I have attended state (and sometimes, national) conferences and workshops. Sometimes, these events are better than other times, but in general, I enjoy learning new things, meeting up with other similarly-interested professionals, and staying abreast of things that affect the education of children in my state and the nation.
Today, however, I realized several things ...
The difference between the annual gatherings of librarians and the annual gatherings of school board members has changed dramatically over the years. When I return home from a conference of librarians, I am generally enthused, enlightened, and filled with new ideas to bring back to my library. I used to feel the same when I returned from school board workshops. This year, however, I was struck by how many of the sessions, labs, and programs were related to budgetary obligations, legal issues, compliance instructions, regulatory updates, legislative updates and the like. Yes, there were still groups of students performing, and there were enthusiastic young teachers promoting STEM objectives - but even these joyous expressions of creativity and knowledge are seen through the lens of logistics and regulation. Can we afford to bus these student entertainers to the conference? Does this exciting lesson in rocket building fill the requirements of the CCCS? In general, the school community seems to be less A B C than B B B, beleaguered, besieged, and beset. Truly, it is amazing how many wonderful and positive things are being done in school communities despite the many obstacles that face them.
Wherever you live, if you are a public librarian, a parent, or a concerned citizen, take an interest in your public schools and offer your support. Chances are, they are doing their best with a limited budget in an increasingly regulated and litigious world.
OK, off my soapbox now. Thanks for listening.