Dark Bilious Vapors

But how could I deny that I possess these hands and this body, and withal escape being classed with persons in a state of insanity, whose brains are so disordered and clouded by dark bilious vapors....
--Rene Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy: Meditation I

Home » Archives » June 2005 » Why are we f*king around with "No Child Left Behind".....

[« Hmmmmm.... the public has better taste than I thought....] [Gem o'the Day: »]

06/11/2005: Why are we f*king around with "No Child Left Behind".....

which causes teachers to "teach the tests", and administrators to fudge the districts' test scores, when the true bedrock of education--libraries--are in such pitiful shape?


Baltimore County isn't alone in its need for funding for new library books.
  • Last winter, the Washington Post reported that books in school libraries across the Washington (D.C.) area still speak of communist rule in the Soviet Union, of apartheid in South Africa, and of Golda Meir as the prime minister of Israel.
  • Librarians in Chattanooga, Tennessee, reported that the area's school libraries are underfunded. The librarians identified problems such as a shortage of current books and other materials, particularly in science; insufficient time to spend with students; and a lack of time to plan with teachers.
  • In Boston, according to a Boston Globe news story, "many school library book collections in Massachusetts are stuck in the '50s and '60s."
  • In one Philadelphia elementary school, the library, with its broken furniture and moldy, smelly books, is in such bad condition that the principal has closed it to students.
The "last major infusion of money to support school library collections was in the late '60s, early '70s, and that's where a lot of the collections sit," M. Ellen Jay, former head of the American Association of School Librarians, told ABC News recently.


School library collections are frozen in the 1970s because that's when a major change in funding occurred: Federal money previously aimed specifically at library materials was reallocated to block grants that are administered on the local level.



Asked whether it is better to have outdated books or no books on library shelves, Shontz, Selverstone, and Curtis all replied, emphatically and without hesitation, "No books."

"Outdated books give students misinformation," Selverstone told Education World. "Our mission is to give them correct and credible information."

Curtis agreed. "We betray children when we put outdated information on our shelves," she told Education World. "We're working toward better understanding of a global world, toward multicultural sensitivity. These goals are not promoted by outdated information." She has a "shelf of shame" in her office where she keeps examples of outdated school library books.

In addition, Curtis said, "if you don't have nice new books that kids want to read, they won't read. We're trying to get children to read more."

"Old books do more harm than good," Shontz told Education World. She cautions librarians to look carefully at any book dated earlier than the 1990s in fields such as science, sex education, geography, and travel. "Outdated books keep stereotypes alive," she said.



The love of books-- of holding a book, turning its pages, and looking at its pictures-- isn't a very potent argument for funding new books in the face of current budget restrictions. But recent research offers more concrete evidence that investments in school libraries produce dividends in student achievement.

In April, the
School Library Journal reported findings from studies done in three states: Alaska, Colorado, and Pennsylvania. That report, Dick and Jane Go to the Head of the Class, contends that data from those three studies indicate that students in schools with strong library media programs learn more and score higher on standardized tests than do their peers in schools with less adequate library facilities.
Pardon my cynicism, but given that our "edjermacation President" is a notorious non-reader (which explains, in part, why he's one of the most incurious and ignorant men ever to occupy the Oval Office), I don't think we're going to see much movement on this front anytime soon.

And compounding the shame: his wife is a librarian. You'd think she'd give him a swift kick in the ass to help get his priorities straightened out....

Len on 06.11.05 @ 09:30 AM CST

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