The Very hungry caterpillar is now banned from the libraries of an Ontario school board. It follows that of Anne Frank Diary of a young girlThe Hunger Games and Harry Potter books on the banned list.
And you thought banning books was just something Americans did, conservative ones at that!
The good news is that the Ford government is putting an end to this practice, the bad news is that this is another example of school boards going off the rails. But first, the backstory.
Full credit to CBC for spreading the story that the Peel District School Board has completely messed up its library system.
It appears that some books were removed because they were old and out of date. Some were removed based on the board’s interpretation of equity and inclusion policies, others were literally discarded because they were over 15 years old.
To be clear, this is not about removing books based on their condition because they were worn and tattered, this is simply about discarding books because they were published before 2008.
The more problematic issue, however, is the misinterpretation of a directive sent to the board by Education Minister Stephen Lecce to review the Peel District School Board’s policies. The board faced allegations of systemic anti-Black discrimination and racism related to the way the board was run and how students were taught.
Below a review commissioned by the province In February 2020, Lecce issued a directive requiring the board to conduct a thorough review in light of the report.
“The Board, through its Equity Office established under Directorate 10, is conducting a comprehensive diversity review of schools, including naming, mascots, libraries and classrooms.” says the directive.
It went on to say that when teaching English, history and social sciences, the board must use materials “that are inclusive and culturally responsive, relevant and reflective of students.” The policy did not require the board to begin cleaning school libraries from an equity perspective.
Some students, parents and trustees have complained about what happened, and the board is investigating the practice — but not before hundreds, if not thousands, of books were taken off the shelves and thrown into the landfill. True, the board’s instruction was that if the books are not suitable for student reading, they may not be donated to others.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time something like this has happened in Ontario schools.
In 2019, the Conseil scolaire catholique Providence, a French language school board for southwestern Ontario, held a “flame purification” ceremony Discarding books as an act of reconciliation with the indigenous community. In case you couldn’t tell from the name, they purified themselves by burning 30 books and then used the ashes as fertilizer to plant a tree.
School libraries, like public libraries, should sort out their book collections regularly, but not on the basis of political considerations.
A book may be out of date, it may be old and musty and starting to smell, there may be a newer and better alternative – these are all reasons to take books off the shelves. The actions of the Peel board amount to madness.
In a statement about it The Toronto SunLecce said he wrote to the board and told them to stop.
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“Ontario is committed to ensuring the addition of new books better reflects the rich diversity of our communities. “It is offensive, illogical and counterintuitive to remove books from years past that educate students about Canada’s history, anti-Semitism or famous literary classics,” Lecce said.
His statement is common sense; Unfortunately, this is another example of school boards operating in their own world where common sense is lacking and where the ministry needs to step in and correct course.
School boards are proving to be their own worst enemies lately, which has many wondering if it’s time to take them off the shelves entirely.
https://torontosun.com/opinion/columnists/lecce-ford-order-end-to-book-banning-at-peel-schools The Ford government tells the Peel District School Board to end the book ban