By way of our friends at Ebook Friendly, here’s an infographic on the benefits of reading—a must-view for Rahm Emanuel, Chicago’s book-hostile mayor.
Scroogish politicians in Chicago have rid school libraries of scores and scores of librarians in recent years. A basketball arena has been a bigger priority for Mayor Emanuel, at least in the past, than schools in Chicago. Shades of Miami and cruise ship subsidies!
Speak up via EveryLibrary, no matter where you live
Check out EveryLibrary‘s advocacy site for more details on the Chicago horrors—and how to protest via email. What’s wrong with the Mayor Emanuel and the school board? Just why are they acting like Donald Trump, our would-be Non-Reader in Chief? Some might say “book-apathetic” fits better than “book-hostile.” But the effect is the same.
So use EveryLibrary’s form even if you don’t live in Chicago. Let Mayor Emanuel and the rest of Chicago know that this is a black eye on the city’s global reputation. Mayor, you’re dissing the ghosts of Upton Sinclair, Theodore Dreiser, Carl Sandburg, Nelson Algren, James Farrell, Richard Wright, Saul Bellow, and other literary greats who lived out their lives mostly or partly in Chicago.
The ugly numbers out of Chicago
A few facts from EveryLibrary: Just one in four schools has “a school librarian to help non-traditional learners or to help kids cultivate their own learning and discovery. It’s almost unimaginable that in a city like Chicago, 3 out of 4 schools don’t have instructional support for technology and school librarians to teach digital literacy. It’s certainly outrageous that only 2 of the 28 historically African-American high schools in the city—two—have a certified librarian any more.” More numbers for Chicago schools:
2013: 454 librarians
2014: 313.3 librarians
2015: 251.8 librarians
2016: 216.5 librarians
Alas, Chicago isn’t alone in its shortsightedness. Other cities have been cheating their young people in the same way. It is true that test scores have gone up somewhat in Chicago. But that isn’t the same as critical thinking skills and other positives that books, including those read for fun, can foster with encouragement from school librarians.
The excuse in Chicago is that school librarians are simply being reassigned to English classrooms, world-language classes and so on. That won’t cut it. Even in a digital era, students think of school libraries as where the books are—and what better location for well-trained librarians to guide the kids to the right ones or organize cell phone book clubs? Or teach the students research skills for the real world, not just the structured K-12 world of standardized tests and rote memorization?
Of course, dumbed-down schools will mean dumbed-down voters more likely to elect dumbed-down politicians.
Embarrassingly, Emanuel is an Obama chum who once served as White House chief of staff and earlier was a fund-raiser for Bill Clinton. The Obama administration has made progress with Open eBooks initiative to bring digital books to students from low-income families. Bottom line, you might think of the Chicago strategy for school libraries as Open eBooks in reverse.
While Chicago’s public libraries enjoy a good reputation, they are no substitute for the libraries most conveniently located for students, those in school buildings. Keep in mind, too, that the libraries have been able to build on good work before Emanuel became mayor in 2011. What’s more, they have drawn contributions from philanthropists. Like the Obama Administration and Chicago officials, I’m a big believer in early childhood learning, and I wildly approve of the “Early Learning Centers” in Chicago libraries, but they are not the same as ongoing exposure to the book culture. We need both decent school libraries and first-rate public libraries with learning centers. If anything, ebooks make librarians even more essential. They do not have a physical presence. School librarians, along with posters, videos, media spots and other strategies, can help keep digital books on students’ minds.
Not a deliberate attack on the book culture—but it might as well be
Granted, students can still go to the school libraries for books checked out by clerks and volunteers. But without trained librarians there, the experience just is not going to be the same. This is not a deliberate attack on the book culture, but it might as well be.
The mayor’s budget priorities for school librarians are indeed book-hostile.
In fairness to Emanuel: His policy toward school librarians is backwards. The man himself is not; he actually majored in the liberal arts, and I doubt he was as book-hostile in raising his own three children as he is toward other people’s. Ideally he’ll change his mind. I’ll be a fast forgiver if he does. But, meanwhile, yes, Chicago is cheating its students of the full benefits of books. Beyond other damage, the quality of future voters will decline—paving the way for Trumpish trogs in public office who truly detest reading and readers.
Image credit: Here.
You are wasting your time, David. Chicago’s has an unbroken record of electing Democratic mayors since 1927, the year Lindberg flew across the Atlantic. Long ago, the Democrats learned that the less educated a group was, the more reliably they vote Democratic, hence the city’s chronically defective school system. That’s true in every major city with a large black population—Democrats in power and lousy schools go together. As they say, its not a bug, its a feature. Nor is it necessarily racist. When the South was monolythically Democratic the schools were lousy for whites and blacks. Segregation only meant that whites could be told that black schools were worse.
It’s also why any black who dares to challenge liberal dogmas is brutally attacked, as illustrated by Justice Clarence Thomas. Under segregation, the Democratic party only allowed black people one POV. Post-segregation, that’s unchanged and every effort is made to corrupt any black who shows any talent with quota that discriminate for less talented blacks and against talented Asians, including those whose parents endured horrors of Pol Pot that made American slavery look benigh.
Keep in mind Chicago’s core problem—money. Decades of catering to the demands of teachers unions, particularly in retirement benefits, means there’s less money for schools including librarians. It’s called ‘kicking the can down the road.’ Year after year, the city’s politicians vote the teachers vote by promising fat retirement benefits in the future. Now the road has ended and the bills are coming due.
You’re right to point out that Emanuel probably doesn’t short his kid’s education like he does those of other kids. That’s perhaps the most important distinction between now and say the 1950s. Then, rich and powerful people thought it important that even the poor marry, acquire a good education and get good jobs. That is no longer true. As those Wikileak emails reveal, a liberal elite want all but themselves beaten into passivity, reared in broken homes, poorly educated, made irreligious, disarmed etc. If you want an analogy, the “black poor model” that produces an utterly brain-dead vote for corrupt Democrats in big cities is to be extended to other groups. That’s what liberal Democrats mean when they talk about creating their “permanent majority”—that and making each identity group so angry, they can’t work together to improve their lot in life.
You see an enormous effort targeting blue-collar jobs under the assumption those who have them will become as politically passive as the black underclass. For instance, those wanting to get rid of some of the best-paying jobs around for non-college-educated mean—those driving vehicles of all sorts—assume those men will simply lie around, cash their welfare checks and watch Netflix.
The Trump rebellion suggests that’s emphatically not so. White people lack the work-ethic destroying legacy of slavery. They’ve always worked for themselves not “the man.” Most resent any efforts to reduce them to passivity. Trump was an incredibly stupid way to express their anger but it’s not surprising. None of the other Republican candidates was addressing that anger. And any understanding of Trump’s history suggests that he may well be channeling that anger in such a clumsy way to ensure Hillary wins.
Not that any major Republican politican has enough sense to figure that out. What we’re seeing this election is an exaggerated form of our nation’s chronic problem, an evil party that has been behind every horror in our nation’s history (the Democrats) pitted against a stupid party (the Republicans). Both harm our country. Both make me increasing depressed about the future of the generations coming behind me.
I was fortunate. I grew up when Eisenhower was president. He was so competent as a leader, he successfully led the largest, multi-national invasion in history. Today’s kids are growing up under Obama, a guy whose executive skills are so lacking, in his one executive role before becoming president, he couldn’t even give $165 million away in a way that improved Chicago’s schools. From what I’ve heard, the money went in ways to enhance his political career. Emanual is playing that same vile game.
I will spare you my utter contempt for all those who’re leading us into the mess, hoping to enrich themselves from the chaos. They are the true “deplorables.”
Too late, Mr. Perry, you’ve already shown exactly how you feel about members of the Democratic party, not just in this posting, but nearly every post you’ve made, unless you’re unleashing your contempt and hatred for Google and/or Amazon.
I think what mainly bugs me with this article is that nothing here allows for the possibility that politics are difficult and sometimes bargains have to be made to achieve something rather than nothing. I, of course, don’t know what’s happening in this case. I’ve only been to Chicago once and I’m not a mind reader. But it seems like so much of discourse on politics these days assumes the worst about people. I think these points could be raised without the character assassination.
@Wilforbis: Thanks for sharing your opinions. Actually the mayor’s policies are “achieving” minus something—fewer school librarians. I’d be shocked if Rahm Emanuel’s kids had attended high schools without them. Notice, too, that just two of the 28 historically black high schools have librarians? I’m a lifelong Democrat and vigorously disagree with Michael Perry that Dems like Emanuel are deliberately trying to dumb down anyone. But they certainly aren’t doing as much for the kids as they should. I really don’t think Emanuel had to strike any bargains at the students’ expense. The man faced a tough reelection fight partly because so many people were appalled by his policies toward minorities. Maybe he would be enjoying more clout if more responsive to their needs. Emanuel won reelection only because his opponents split the vote. Most Chicago voters didn’t want him as mayor.
Doubt how hated Emanuel is by many in the African-American community and elsewhere? From Wikipedia: “Since November 2015 Emanuel’s approval rating has plunged in response to a series of scandals, most directly the police shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, the city’s subsequent attempts to withhold a video of the shooting, and the lack of an investigation into the matter. In early December the federal Justice Department announced an investigation into the operations of the Chicago police department, a move which Emanuel initially opposed. By December over half of Chicagoans favored Emanuel’s resignation, with highly critical evaluations of the mayor appearing in such sources as The New York Times and The New Yorker, and coming from such figures as the Reverend Al Sharpton.”