Friday, August 14, 2020
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Books thrown out as Balto. high school closes

Baltimore City Public Schools threw hundreds and hundreds of books into dumpsters as they shuttered Heritage High School on the city’s northeast side yesterday.

Books that were thrown out included textbooks published as recently as 2011, history books about Baltimore, the Colts, and the Constitution, accounting and math textbooks that may never become outdated, and works of literature, including Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Elie Wiesel’s Night, the Baltimore Sun reports.

It was just very disheartening to see the total disregard for books. A book will never go out of style. It was really sad. It was like, “Wow, what a waste!”

—Shamarla McCoy, a Spanish teacher

The high school is one of five public schools the district decided to close after classes ended for the 2014-15 school year. The school’s principal, Stephanie Farmer, didn’t respond to the Sun’s request for comment on this story, and Jimmy Gittings, president of the administrators’ union, said she was following orders by disposing of the books.

Local business people tried to rescue as many books as possible, hoping to distribute them to other students, schools, rec centers, etc. Anyplace that wasn’t a landfill or recycling center.

“I was greatly disappointed that they were throwing them in the dumpster, when there were people wanting to take them,” the paper quoted city councilman Carl Stokes as saying.

“I couldn’t believe it—that I had just watched a loader take a dumpster full of books. I still think two plus two equals four, and a balance sheet still needs to balance. Out of date for book companies means that they change the cover and resell the system another $1 million worth of books.”

We are appalled that books bought by our tax dollars, many of which would still be of value in the hands of teachers or students, were hauled off as rubble or recycled for scrap. This is how we keep textbook publishers loaded with cash, how we lead students to willfully destroy property, how we teach them that literature and knowledge have no value to our society whatsoever, and how we keep our public schools, especially those in low-income neighborhoods, feeling desperate for real books.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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