Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sarah Palin, which books do you want to ban, and why?

Revisiting a recent theme, in advance of Banned Books Week, regarding censorship and libraries, if not also politics. Leonard Pitts Jr., a columnist for the Miami Herald, furthers the commentary regarding the gimmickry and gross unpreparedness of Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin, and how she reflects and extends a growing American trend toward shallow, uninformed, anti-intellectualism:
"We are becoming the stupid giant of planet Earth: richer than Midas, mightier than Thor, dumber than rocks. Which makes us a danger to the planet — and to ourselves. This country cannot continue to prosper and to embrace stupidity. The two are fundamentally incompatible."
Vessels of information and ideas that libraries are, and, in turn, the communities they foster, library institutions will exist far longer than myself and Sarah Palin. But let's hope that her stay in our public consciousness is briefer than her desire to be well read and well informed.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Nampa, Idaho Public Library did not need to bow to the ACLU's demands?

Wow, it takes all types. While this blog appears to be rather narrow in scope, focusing on immigration and illegal aliens, they take the giant leap to comment on library administration and the American Civil Liberties Union. I especially enjoyed how the authors felt compelled to contact the City of Nampa and their library board to urge them to reconsider their decision to place The Joy of Gay Sex and The New Joy of Sex back on the shelves. Nampa is in Idaho, the blog authors reside in Texas.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Are Advanced Placement Courses Diminishing Liberal Arts Education?

While thought-provoking the article is, it does seem to be based on observations rather actual empirical date. Furthermore, while Advanced Placement classes are, indeed, taught at my school, their presence seems to be very important to both the participants and their parents, regardless of what some remote professor believes. Any shortcomings that Professor Von Blum finds in his own undergrads are due to the American secondary education ideal in its entirety, where we are charged with educating everyone regardless of cognitive ability, this is not specific to AP classes. Somebody needs to wake this Von Blum up, and his yearning for "genuine liberal learning," as in my equally subjective recollections over my 14 year career, it's rare that current students learn for any thoroughness or mastery, but instead for the mark. In other words, for most, it's the result, the grade, rather than the process.

And, despite the import that we may share for the more esoteric classes that make up the traditional liberal arts undergraduate education, parents won't generally tolerate the collegiate bill for Jill or Jack to take classes in areas not leading to a definable degree with monetary and employability outcomes.

Certainly, let us not forget that Professor Von Blum's rallying against rote-memorization and test-taking has legislative origins: No Child Left Behind. We're hamstrung.

Finally, Professor Von Blum condescends when he argues that high school teachers "are not qualified or knowledgeable enough to offer college-level instruction." Don't fool yourself, Von Blum, you teach at an upper mediocre public school, hardly Oxford. A cursory search of the database Academic OneFile, geared toward scholarly research articles, shows Professor Von Blum's wanting near recent research output: 2 articles since January 1995.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Mayor Palin: A Rough Record - Time Magazine

Another Practitioner of the Dark Arts Revealed!

8 More Shocking Revelations About Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin: In books ... and banning them?

Sarah Palin: Book Banner?

During the most recent
Presidential Election, the GLHS Library, in conjunction with the American Library Association, participated in a voter registration program to register students. Due to this heightened electoral awareness in the library -- complete with political and electoral book displays as well -- and because of the impending election, students frequently asked how I would vote during the approaching election season. Out of a respect for my own privacy, yet with a hint of insight, I typically counter with a variation of "I select the guy or gal that is best for education, and best suits my job." Now it appears that America's newest candidate for Vice President doesn't suit my job or align with my code of ethics. In a Time magazine article, former Wasilla mayor John Stein claims
"... that as mayor, Palin continued to inject religious beliefs into her policy at times. "She asked the library how she could go about banning books," he says, because some voters thought they had inappropriate language in them. "The librarian was aghast." That woman, Mary Ellen Baker, couldn't be reached for comment, but news reports from the time show that Palin had threatened to fire Baker for not giving "full support" to the mayor."
I'm sure the liblogosphere will continue this story with fevered interest.