Books are Enough

The Power of Free, Self-Selected Reading

No Books for You! (We are testing. Shhhhhhhhh…)

The silly season is about to begin. One of the statistic that I have never seen reported is how many hours each day libraries are closed down for testing. Sadly, libraries have become testing centers more and more as schools convert from centers of learning to testing factories. I will be reporting on library closings at one school so we can see the harmful results of the educational testing complex. Instead of places where books can excite students and create lifelong learners- libraries are full of computers (often rows and rows) where room for testing has been created.

Libraries, books, reading and wonder have become collateral damage in the war on learning. As common core comes in to end the war and totally crush learning, we must pause and wonder how and why we let the scapegoating non-educators do this to us. Last year I noted that the library at my school was closed down for weeks at a time for testing. This year I will give monthly reports.

One of the problems our students face is the lack of access to books and the time to read and enjoy them. With 23% of our students in poverty and 40% of our African American students in poverty, the lack of access to books becomes more problematic. Our students in poverty rarely have access to books or time to read. When schools reinforce this “book poverty” we must loudly object. Remember, we will see more of this book poverty extend to schools from the home.

Schools should be places where we can begin to address book poverty. Sadly, with schools turning into testing factories, this is no longer possible. The message Arne Duncan and states are sending is that testing and standards take priority over books and the self-selected reading that saves many lives and creates book loving adults.

Some schools convert gyms into testing centers. How long will we let this madness continue? The media could care less. The testing cult has a strong hold and millions of dollars are at stake. In some states, students have been sent to the library to work on making up credits so they can graduate from high schools (virtual) in other states! What the heck are we doing? This is like a Twilight Zone episode.

One thing is certain this year. More and more students will be hearing, “No books for you!”

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