By Barry Rascovar
Sometimes you just want to scream, “What an outrage!”
That certainly is the case with the “Baltimore Book Burning” revealed in The Baltimore Sun — hundreds of books mindlessly trashed by city school officials who seemed to have forgotten their raison d’etre: to create a love of learning among children and to better the community.
Instead of taking the textbooks and library books from the now-closed Heritage High School (shuttered as a cost-saving move) and wisely offering them to students, their parents or others in the community who might benefit from the knowledge and pleasure books can impart, bureaucratic knuckleheads opted to “recycle” them — a polite, modern-day way of conducting an old-fashioned book-burning.
Any book published before 2000 was deemed outdated and thus useless to other schools or to the citizens of Baltimore who might benefit from reading a good yarn, or a book that helps them learn.
That’s right, books the same age as the one I wrote, entitled, “The Great Game of Maryland Politics,” were deemed antiquated. All those words about the politicians and government actions during the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s were judged to be useless by so-called “educators.”
So were books by Mark Twain, John Milton, Thomas Hardy, John Steinbeck, William Shakespeare and Elie Wiesel.
There were plenty of newer books in the junk pile, too, because no one from school headquarters bothered to supervise this mass destruction of knowledge printed on paper.
It’s hard to remain hopeful about Baltimore’s future when the school system seems dominated by anti-education paper-pushers and numbers-crunchers.
No wonder many teachers, parents and elected officials were anguished by this flagrant display of uncaring hostility toward the written word.
How can they have faith in the city’s education leaders after witnessing this sickening waste and intentional destruction of essential learning tools?
Back to basics
Baltimore is a struggling, aging city with serious poverty, employment, housing and crime issues that urgently need addressing. It also has a school system filled with too many unthinking placeholders more concerned about their paychecks than the basics of education.
Humanity suffers when there are intentional book-burnings like this one. Ignorance flourishes when bureaucrats fail to open their eyes to simple, creative solutions that would benefit society.
What happened at Heritage High School is unacceptable. Baltimore City’s political leaders need to act.
Either the school system becomes a partner in educating and uplifting the city’s communities or it becomes an enemy of the people.