I don’t know how well the United States ranks in the world when it comes to education. If I had to guess I’d say that the most “exceptional” nation on the planet is nowhere near the top. Of course much has been said about the “Dumbing Down of America” and its pathetic public school system. But, however you may feel about it or whom so ever you blame for our demise. It’s bad enough that they’re banning a literary classic by Toni Morrison and even deeming her work as pornographic. But now, librarians are being fired for, well, encouraging kids to read. Hell, and here I thought a North Carolina school board banning Ralph Ellison’s ‘Invisible Man’ last Monday was ugly.
The following story serves as a cautionary tale to many of you do-gooders out there with a vested interest in the education of our youth. More specifically, if you’re interested in teaching or encouraging kids to read you just may lose your job. That is, if you’re a librarian at least in upstate New York of course. Hopefully this is the only corner of the country where this type of oppression is allowed to stand for the sake of the kids.
This from The Atlantic Wire:
A library aide has been fired for successfully doing her most basic job — getting a kid to read more. And so, too, has the library’s director, who started the reading controversy in the first place.
Lita Casey was dismissed on Monday after working for 28 years at the Hudson Falls Free Library in upstate New York. Her offense? Defending a nine-year-old child whose voracious reading appetite and abundant (and free!) library books makes him read too much. So much, in fact, that Weaver dominates the library’s annual reading competition, having won his 5th straight reading title by absorbing 63 books in the 40 day competition.
That should be good news, right?
Not in the eyes of library director Marie Gandron, who said the soon-to-be fifth grader Tyler Weaver “hogs” the contest with his no-good-dirty-rotten-book-stealing reading habits. Gandron had hoped to change the structure of prizes awarded in the contest to encourage other kids to get involved in the reading contest, as “Other kids quit because they can’t keep up,” Gandron said. Instead, Gandron wanted to award prizes for the reading “contest” by picking names out of a hat. Why that would actually encourage reading, we can’t say. It’s not as if those prizes were the main reason Weaver — the self-described “the king of the reading club” — was picking up those books in the first place. All little Weaver has won in his five year reign is an atlas, a T-shirt, a water bottle and certificates of achievement. That’s nothing special.
Casey stood up for this injustice back in late August, calling the idea of changing the prizes “ridiculous.” Well, she has since paid the price for standing up for her beliefs. “I could not believe it, and I still cannot believe it,” she said after she heard she had been let go in a phone conversation. Gandron, too, has paid the same price herself, as she was also fired from her job last week after 41 years at the library.
With two of the library’s six employees gone over a dumb controversy, it’s hard to find much of a winner in this story. That is, except for our friend Weaver. If only these librarians had put down the books and watched some of The Wire, they would have known a good life lesson: You come at the (reading) king, you best not miss.
Lemme guess: pretty soon we’re going to beat kids for reading much like African-American slaves once were? The real sadf part of this story is that Casey is still waiting on a response from a board member as to why she was fired. I mean you’d think they’d have the decency to at least tell her.
“I worked there for 28 years without a complaint,” said Casey. “I have to believe it was related to the whole reading controversy.”