Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Poor Mark Hasiuk - Wrong Again!

In his most recent attack on our beleaguered Social Responsibility Team, Mark Hasiuk of The Vancouver Courier ("Vancouver school bureaucrats unleash bizarre theories on race and culture: Budget cuts spare ‘Diversity Team", April 19, 2011) tries again to target the good work being done by our respected teacher colleagues.  Their work enables many students to thrive and succeed who might otherwise not; I can think of no educator who could support Hasiuk's position.  That includes me, the district librarian he refers to in his concocted account of the removal of books.  No such thing ever happened, in a district that annually celebrates Freedom to Read Week in February, nor would it, and it is upsetting to think that there are people who, perhaps because the system didn't offer opportunities to learn to think critically about issues and the importance of corroborating evidence, might just believe him.

Here is what Suzanne Hall, District Librarian in Maple Ridge, wrote in response to one of Hasiuk's attacks on the same target:  You, sir, are remarkably misinformed! Teacher-librarian Moira Ekdahl of the Vancouver School District has clearly refuted your claims about book-banning in her blog.  This letter was published!  Here is what she is sending in response to this most recent attack:

Dear editor:

Mr. Hasiuk’s latest misinformed, misleading rant about the Diversity Team certainly proves how important their work is. Again, his column reflects a lack of background knowledge, selective hearing, and the arrogance needed to make personal attacks. Why is his reaction so personal? Since much of the Team’s work is aimed at preventing all three of those faults, I am left to wonder: feeling threatened by a broader perspective, Mr. Hasiuk?

Suzanne Hall, District Librarian
District Facilitator: Mentoring
Chair of Professional Development Committee, M.R.T.A.

My full response to his last articles was posted during Spring Break in the Reader Soapbox section online.  "Vancouver’s teacher-librarians keep books in student hands: School libraries do not ban books, have plenty of works by Dickens" (March 23, 2011).  How insulting is that to be put into the soapbox category when you want to set the record straight and are a most credible source!  Forgive me -- soapbox, did you say?

VSB TL Cecil Baird sent a letter on behalf of the VTLA that was edited and published on March 23:  Teacher librarians enjoy autonomy.  While I take this section from Cecil's longer letter, the letter clearly indicated teacher-librarians are not under any mandate to remove books!  I don't think Hasiuk gets the "autonomy" part or the need we feel to ensure all students find themselves and people like themselves fairly portrayed within accounts and images they encounter in our schools and curriculum and resources and the particular attachment teacher-librarians have for freedom of expression. The last blast took place during Freedom to Read Week.  Cecil wrote,
Teacher Librarians in Vancouver have a great deal of autonomy and defend freedom to read as a major tenet of literacy.  In my experience, there are actually few books removed from shelves, which is testament to the fact that we are getting it right. Nothing gets weeded from the fiction shelves of my school's library that doesn't contain inappropriate content, meaning works that are not sensitive to genders, sexual orientation, or cultures, or that are not damaged beyond repair .... Teacher Librarians choose materials based on a wide set of criteria including quality, appropriateness to curriculum, and reader interest.

To say more, there is a cultural aspect beyond your own worldview that must be considered when making these decisions. Thanks to the VSB team for their consultations. Nothing is mandated by them, and we defer to their expertise in cases where we are unfamiliar with the subject area ....

Cecil Baird, Co-President, Vancouver Teacher-librarians' Association

Read also Steve Mulligan's letter to the editor, Diversity Team Saves Lives (March 23).

The Vancouver Courier editor Barry Link did contact me to let me know he does include my blog address so I know that inquirying readers could find the truth if they could find the soapbox.  Some besides our own district readers actually did, as Suzanne's response would indicate.

Did I forget anything?  No, except thanks again, Team, for what you do for us and for our students.

1 comment:

meredyth kezar said...

Hey, Moira, congrats on your award!!!