Friday, January 25, 2008

Public Schools VS Public Libraries

"The State...has a vested interest in promoting attitudes that would tend to make us skeptical of our own abilities, fearful of the motives of others, and emotionally dependent upon external authorities for purpose and direction in our lives."
-- Butler D. Shaffer, from Americans for Limited Gov't. Mar 15, 06

When a US citizen enters a public library, the library employee's attitude is, "How can I help you? What are you interested in? How can I satisfy your curiosity? What information can I help you find? All of our resources are at your disposal," etc.

Librarians don’t ask probing questions of their patrons, whatever their age; they do not judge their patrons' abilities or qualifications. They are there to help them in their interests, whatever they might be. Librarians never look at a child and say, "You're too young to want to learn about that" or, "You should wear proper clothes to come here" or, "You are not qualified to read that book." etc

But when a child enters a public school, the attitude of the employees is entirely different. The teachers typically demand that children "Sit down; be quiet, think only what I tell you to think. Never mind your personal interests, never mind your curiosity, do not ask questions...we will ask the questions for you to answer." etc.

The school employees see children as "resources" that can be used for the school's purposes. Thus, they see the children as a commodity to be exploited -- used for the benefit of the school, not as patrons to be served. Their attitude is, "How can I use this child (and his/her parents) to make me look good; to enlarge the school budget; hire more teachers; increase state funding," etc.

The state, too, sees public school children as economic units, cogs in the social machinery, in short: slaves to the state. Remember that the public school system is a politically controlled arm of the state.

The schools have a similar approach to parents, seeing them as willing or potential participants in the teacher union’s plans to raise teacher pay, increase budgets, hire more union employees, spend more tax money, saying that it’s "all for the children," of course. Meanwhile, the employees almost never accede to the wishes of parents regarding school programs or policies.

Thus, libraries exist to serve the patrons -- whoever they are, whatever their age or politics or circumstances, however they are dressed. But the government schools exist to exploit citizens and their children for the benefit and convenience of their employees. By their actions and intentions, we can see that schools exist also for the state education bureaucracy, and assorted politicians at all levels – not for children, parents or the community.

Who would use a library that treated patrons the way schools do? Wouldn’t it be better if schools were more like libraries?


R said...

This is so true, Ned. And may be why children seem to want and enjoy going to the library- but resent and fight going to school. My kids, at least, could go 2-3 times a week.

christinemm said...

Sadly in my town they keep taking money away from the public library. In contrast the money to the elementary school and that one library goes up and up.

We lost a great children's librarian from the public library who went to work for the public elementary school in the same town as the pay was higher. Sigh. It is interesting to ponder how the pay can be higher for a school librarian who works just 180 days a year, has summers off, and is being paid technically by the same town budget.

Later we had to fight to get a replacement children's librarian at the public library.

I wrote my first and only letter to the Selectmen in support of hiring a replacement children's librarian. A year later the education budget was tried to be raised by 11% and my husband wrote a letter to the Selectmen to oppose it. He got a response from our registered party's opposition who was the Second Selectman. It was very rude and said that my husband should go speak to his wife about her feeling of wanting to have a healthy library budget and that if we are so concerned with saving money then I should not want the public library to keep a children's librarian. You see in my town they keep track of these things and they snap back at you if you speak out.

(The little town newspaper complains that they can't get our citizens to share opinions and speak out on things like the rising education budget. My friend whose kids are in school says all the parents are afraid to speak out with anything negative at all lest their child be blackballed by being forever doomed to go into the 'worst teachers classroom'.

You should see the elementary school's wonderful library. It is breathtaking.

I feel that the public library serves all patrons and should be there for all of us. The public school teachers are also allowed to borrow books from the public library as of course are the public schooled children. It is not like the public library is not there for the students or the teachers.

Additionally the trend is around here the elementary classrooms have full libraries in each, hundreds of books so that the teachers don't even need to use the school's own library. I have been told by teachers that they barely use the school library instead they want to own their own mini-libraries in their own classrooms. The children can read what is right in the classroom and it is convenient.

And I still don't get why some teachers say they pay out of their own pocket to supply their own classroom with new books. Yet at the end of the year these books stamped with the school or class information are discarded into the town's library sale or end up in used book stores.

I don't get it at all.

Ned Vare said...

The answer is corruption. Armand Fusco's book, "School Corruption," calls public schools, "a culture of deceit and corruption."
In my town, the town library gets about $20K per year from taxes for new books. It serves the town of 25,000 people, and is open nights and weekends. Meanwhile, the school libraries (there are several) get about four times as much for books while serving only 4000 kids, and none are open after school hours. It is another outrage.

About This Site said...

As a public youth librarian, let me say that I am flattered by your opinion of my profession. However, as a former teacher, I feel obligated to say that most teachers really do care a great deal for the students they teach. There are a few who are either lazy or burnt out (as there are in any profession), but the great majority of teachers are self-sacrificing saints. Suffice it to say that they are doing more and more with less and less. Things do need to change, I believe education in our country is in the toilet, but teachers don’t deserve all the blame.

Our schools simply reflect our society. If you don’t know what I mean, go volunteer at your local schools so you can learn first hand why things are the way they are.

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