Wednesday, July 7, 2010

#AirLifttoLA UPDATE #literacy #education #equity

It's working! Books have been flying in for our book drive to support school libraries in Los Angeles.

WTF?

Canadian authors have banded together to EMBARRASS THE HECK out of the U.S. authorities who have allowed public school libraries in poor neighborhoods to wither and die. Not that Canada is all that high and mighty, mind you - we have plenty of our own problems here with school libraries being neglected, underfunded and understaffed.

However, we wanted to call attention to the URGENT NEED for American (and Canadian) citizens to wake up and pay attention to what is happening in your schools. They have become worse than Third World in their conditions, with empty shelves, demoralized and distressed (and overstressed) staff, and a culture that spouts blah blah "we support  literacy" rhetoric while allowing our public institutions to be gutted.

If you want a healthy democracy, we simply cannot allow our neediest children to be deprived of the opportunity to learn. A functioning library in a school provides learning opportunities like none other. If kids in poor schools don't have a good school library, and the chance to read and learn at school, where exactly will they learn? And WHAT will they learn? That being born in Orange County makes you more deserving of education? That if your parents can afford to privately raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to support your own "public" school, you get to have orff music and computers and field trips and new books in your library, but if your parents are poor or immigrants, you get squat????

That is not what public education is about. That is not what America is about - and I know that first hand. I grew up in New York, and benefited from a quality public education.So did my parents, who were children of immigrants, and who received top educations in NYC's public school system. Why have we allowed the promise and potential of our own history and vision to disintegrate?

That's why I have organized the Air Lift to LA - to call attention to this issue. Please, speak out for public education, equity and literacy by:

1) Sending books to me to include in the drive. Email me for instructions.
2) Join the Facebook Group "Air Lift to LA" to show your support of literacy and public education. Invite your contacts to join too!
3) Follow our activity on Twitter using hashtag #airlifttoLA. Pass along the info to people you know - parents, teachers, librarians, politicians, media types of all stripes. RT! RT! RT!
4) Consider helping to FUND the shipment of books to the US. This will be coming out of my own pocket, which is ok unless we have so many books I can't afford to send them!
5) Download the School Library Assessment Questionaire from my blog (see archives) and use it to evaluate your own local school library. Share the results with your school administrators, board, trustees and Minister or Secretary of Education. Demand effective schools and school libraries for all public school attendees. Say not to private schools within a public system, the de facto situation across North America.

We will be collecting books until AUGUST 15 so we can send the books to arrive in Compton California for the first day of school. Our parner in California, Access Books, will oversee distribution of the books on site.

Helaine, mouthing off again.

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