DETROIT (WXYZ) — As fewer and fewer students are meeting literacy standards in Michigan there’s a problem that experts say could be connected: Too few schools have certified librarians.
In Michigan only 8-percent of school librarians are staffed with a full-time certified library media specialist, more than half don’t even carry a library staff. Kafi Kumasi, an associate professor at Wayne State, believes that it’s a crisis that isn’t being discussed.
“It’s unfortunate, but we see correlation between the decline of certified librarians and the decline in our students literacy scores,” explained Kumasi.
It’s not that the literacy concern isn’t being acknowledged. In last month’s state of the state Governor Whitmer described decades of disinvestment in our students, she attributed it to Michigan students ranking in the bottom 10 nationwide when it comes to literacy scores for third and eighth graders.
“Our educators and our kids deserve our support,” said Whitmer on February 12th, “not a funding crisis that weakens our schools and compromises the education.”
The new budget calls for more reading coaches, but Kumasi hopes that on a local level schools look to funding positions within their own walls that could bring kids to the forefront.
“If it’s done right the library should be the information hub of the school,” she said, explaining that people need to shake old views of libraries as bookkeepers and antiquated computers. “Really a librarian should bring the whole school together in a common space where literacy is vibrant.”
These aren’t just a fleeting thought, at Wayne State they’re unveiling a new experimental school library media certificate that condenses a traditional 36-credit graduate program into 15-courses. Approved by the Michigan Department of Education in fall 2018, the program provides an opportunity for educators to gain the knowledge necessary to become a school library media specialist — in Michigan that means someone who already has a teacher’s certificate that continues in their education through program like this.
Kumasi believes that the classes are ideal for teachers looking to make a switch in their career, or that want to move beyond the classroom.
Course registration is available now, and closes on June 25th. Space is available, but they have already had some sign up — the program is going to be open on a first-come, first-served basis.
If you’d like to learn more about the program, and what it entails you can find details online at Wayne State’s website.