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The ability to use both electronic and print sources to evaluate and use information and media messages is not only a necessary, but an essential competency.

A compelling case for library media standards of learning being taught in Utah schools has implicityly been made in three recently published Deseret News pieces. But who has the legal mandate to accomplish this teaching? Teacher librarians are the answer, but are slowly becoming extinct in Utah. Why? The answer may be because parents do not demand support with an active teacher librarian in place in each child’s public schools.

Although all three pieces have, probably unknowingly, zeroed in on the critical need for timely information and media skills to be taught, none mention the key solution to this education issue at hand, that of strong school library programs and the teacher librarians who can provide the lessons. The public in general as well as parents and school administrators specifically often seem oblivious to a solution right under their noses.

In the first August publication "A call for information age education,” M. Donald Thomas and Lynn Stoddard, former Utah educators, assert, "Now, we are beginning to understand some small steps schools can take that will lead to information age schooling … develop curiosity and help students learn how to ask strong questions and search in a variety of places."

"Media literacy among the public is needed now more than ever. … Transparency in media is also needed more than ever, and in greater proportions. And bias should be acknowledged," wrote Doug Wilks, editor, in the second piece titled, “Why the Deseret News chose to write a one-word editorial." Yet again, the serious lack of staff support to teach a state-mandated curriculum is omitted.

In "The cost of skimming: The pursuit of truth requires critical thinking skills," printed Sept. 1, the editorial board states, "Simply put, by not using the brain to apply the reading and reasoning skills human beings have used for centuries, people are in very real danger of losing these critical abilities. Should society care? … Without those critical tools, people will continue to retreat to the comfort of information sources that make them the most comfortable, or they will rely on others to tell them what is bogus and what is true."

These skills should be taught in Utah schools. But who has the legal mandate to accomplish this teaching? Teacher librarians are the only legal answer, but are slowly becoming extinct in Utah. Why? Who is standing up to insist upon the gains that a strong teacher librarian in their children's schools can provide? While those same parents usually advocate for a library and librarian, they do not demand that the information, media and reading engagement skills be stressed.

1 comment on this story

The public is not sufficiently informed about the tools already in place, the standards aleady adopted by the Utah State Board of Education. Please make it your responsibility to learn for yourself what could be taught by doing more than skimming this opinion piece. Go to https://schools.utah.gov/curr/librarymedia and read for yourself the key skills required by a knowledgeable citizenry.

The ability to use both electronic and print sources to evaluate and use information and media messages is not only a necessary, but an essential competency. Indeed, in a free nation, each and every citizen should be able to go beyond information intake to synthesize from all the words available new personal knowledge and opinions that can be produced by thoughtful analysis of text. Together we can demand of our schools what the future generation requires.