Sigh. I wanted to have my first Wednesday post of the new year to be happy and full of rainbows, but unfortunately the first 25 days of the year have not been the best, especially on the books and education front. As I sit here with the news of another mass shooting in California (my home and specifically Monterey Park where I live) I am reminded that law makers are more interested in making laws prohibiting our right to read whatever we want, whenever we want instead of legislating guns. Needless to say my heart is full of hurt. And anger.
Anger that teachers in Florida are having to put away their carefully curated classroom libraries according to a new law where every single book must be vetted by a librarian. Really? First of all, DeSantis and friends came after the librarians and they are already having to shift around their libraries which is a Herculean task in of itself. Now the government wants them to vet all teachers classroom libraries? That is virtually impossible as some teachers have spent years building their libraries and have hundreds of books. Plus, if a school has a librarian (and that is a big if as many schools share librarians) when would that librarian find time to vet an entire school’s worth of classroom libraries? The task is impossible which is why this is being done because the real focus is to disrupt and dismantle public education while creating an ignorant populace that doesn’t question their government. A rational thinking mind is a threat to power and DeSantis and friends do not want that. I have teacher friends in Florida and my heart is absolutely breaking for them. I am extremely proud of my small classroom library so I can only imagine how Florida’s teachers are feeling. I feel like this legislation would kill any remaining desire for teaching that I have. We’re already in a teacher shortage and this law could easily cause more teachers to leave the profession. But again, as I said earlier, the destruction of public education is the point.
In addition, the announcement by DeSantis to block the AP African American Studies course because the class had no “educational value” practically broke me. It was a direct hit to the gut as a Black educator. I took Black Studies classes in both my undergrad and graduate schooling and learned so much more than I did in my K-12 education about the influence Black Americans have/had on the creation of America. There is so much information that allowing high school students to take this class as an elective would benefit, nay enrich, their education. I can imagine many Black (and non-Black) students were looking forward to this class and now they are being deprived of their education. To make an extreme parallel, remember that slaves were prohibited from learning to read in order to keep them subservient. Hmmmm…. What further hurt my heart was DeSantis’s claim that the class had “no educational value”. Sometimes I’m able to shrug off racist comments but this one still hurts days later. To be told that your history, your culture is not worth of study is just so…I don’t even have the words for the hurt. Again, the cruelty and destruction of public education is the point.
Whew…that turned into a whole rant but I feel better now. I’ve been a mess of emotions the past few days, though the bright spots have been the moments of silliness I’ve had with my students in the classroom. They are the reason I am still fighting the good fight. To have an emerging reader show me how much he has read of the book he borrowed from my library counteracts all the hurt and anger I’ve been feeling. One of my goals for my classroom is to instill a love of reading and when my students express joy in reading, education wins. Education has taken so many hits the past few years, but we’ve got to keep fighting because we will win.
*pic is of a small portion of my little classroom library that includes student artwork. I am extremely proud of it.