The Racine Unified School District is purging “tens of thousands of books” copyrighted prior to the year 2000, according to a statement by the REA. But Racine Unified School District spokesperson Stacy Tapp said the district works with school staff members each summer to refresh the libraries.
“We provide a list of books to the library media specialist to consider pulling from the shelves because they are outdated, in very poor condition, don’t align with curriculum or have not been checked out in many years,” Tapp said. “There are additional factors that are considered as well. The school libraries have funds each year to replace old items.”
If possible, the school district does donate the books, Tapp said.
But Aaron Eick, vice president of the REA and teacher at Horlick High School, said the union believes the number of books is “not normal” and in some cases the school librarians were not involved in the process. At Mitchell Middle School the librarian helped weed out about 2,000 books, but then the librarian got a removal list of 8,000 more books to take off the shelves. Among the books being pulled are ones written by local authors David Kherdian and Kevin Henkes; books on the Holocaust, Hiroshima, the Bible, the Koran, and Beowulf.
Shel Silverstien poetry and many Dr. Seuss books are expected to be removed from some elementary schools.
At Case High School, 2,505 books were removed, including: Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Holy Bible, Pable Picasso: A Modern Master, and The Iliad & The Odyssey of Homer. “The REA/REAA presence at the Board of Education meeting comes after repeated efforts by school librarians and by the union’s leaders to get RUSD to explain why it has ordered the purge and why it refuses—thus far—to halt the weeding until alternatives can be developed by the school librarians,” according to a statement released by the union,” according to the union. Eick said the librarians are at a loss on how the books will be replaced. “There is not nearly enough money to buy enough books to replace what has been lost,” Eick said. Eick said the union is demanding that:
- RUSD should stop the “weeding” of our school libraries and reverse damage done to library collections.
- RUSD should implement an appropriate policy with certified librarians taking the lead.
- RUSD needs to provide our children with access to a wide variety of quality literature and information.
- REA expects the Board to exercise responsible stewardship of the community’s educational resources.