Throwing books in the trash is not as bad as burning them, but it’s close. That’s why people are mad–very mad!–at Heritage High School in northeast Baltimore.
Heritage closed for good at the end of this school year, one of several city schools that the school board voted to shut down due to declining enrollment and their desire to divert resources to building new schools. (The decision to close Heritage was met by protests from students.)
Teachers and staff were instructed by the central office to throw away all books published before 2000, a teacher told the Baltimore Sun. Presumably that was an effort to discard outdated textbooks… but it also included a whole bunch of classic literature, the vast majority of which was not published in the past 15 years. And so teachers, following orders, tossed Shakespeare, Hemingway, and a whole bunch of others into the recycling bin.
The Sun story on the controversial book-trashing includes a whole lot of passing the buck–the teachers say they were doing what the principal told them to do; the principal saying she was just following orders from above; the school system claiming that they were judiciously “weeding out” old textbooks.
Terence Dickson, owner of Terra Cafe and a supporter of local schools, brought the issue to the media’s attention. “I had teachers with tears in their eyes, who were so upset to see those books go in,” he told the Sun. He was able to rescue some of the books, which he hopes to donate to other schools and rec centers. And there’s always the Book Thing, of course. In other words: There’s really no reason to throw out a perfectly good book.
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