Brave New School? Major Texas School District Converting Libraries into Punishment Centers
As a child, the library was a place of quiet refuge. I discovered so much joy there- Hobbits returning rings, the antics of Greek gods, and Where the Sidewalk Ends. I'm still an avid reader, thanks to having open access to lovely libraries when I was young.
We live in a world full of things to read- but much of what we have ready access to is of questionable veracity and even more questionable quality. I love memes and satire as much as anyone else, but I am genuinely concerned for our kids' attention span and their basic information literacy. Now, more than ever, we need to teach our children how to tell if the information they are reading is from a reputable source. And we need to teach them that long-format reading is an absolute joy.
I think most people reading this will agree with me unless you're Superintendent Mike Miles of Houston ISD. He is "letting go" of librarians and media specialists and converting libraries into punishment centers for unruly children.
Former library spaces at some schools will be converted into rooms where students who misbehave will be relocated to watch lessons virtually, work alone, or in groups with differentiated lessons.
The optics of this move are obviously terrible, but so is the reality of making libraries de facto baby prisons. It reinforces the disturbing public school-to-prison pipeline that Texas has seen in recent years.
The School-to-Prison Pipeline is a combination of (i) school disciplinary actions that remove students from their regular classrooms, such as suspensions, expulsions and alternative school placements, and (ii) the criminalization of student misbehavior, leading to school-based arrests and ticketing, that push Texas students—particularly students of color and special education students—out of Texas’ schools, decreasing their chances of graduating and increasing their chances of entering the juvenile justice and criminal justice system.
Miles' plan is receiving criticism from high places, including Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and other city officials. I hope the pressure results in a reversal in his, let's be honest, dystopian decision. We don't need Brave New Schools- because we read that book and understood the message (I hope).