It is always amusing to read the press releases from the Rainy River District School Board and the one published on Feb. 8 (“Student access to libraries enhanced”) was no exception.
It is always a question not of what are they revealing, but of what they are trying to hide. This one just oozed hypocrisy.
There is nothing wrong with providing students with public library memberships and access to online books. It is quite a laudable idea. Why are they doing this? Quite simply, to shift attention away from what their policies have done to their own school library system.
The board's policies have left their libraries in a desperate strait. Years of deliberate neglect have left the libraries woefully underfunded, understaffed, and unable to meet the needs of their students.
Many administrators believe libraries are better used for storage than for learning.
The media constantly are telling us that this is the information age. It is so very important that students learn how to access and use the information available to them, both in electronic and print resources.
The place for that learning is obviously a library but who is left to teach them? Even though the board receives provincial funding for teacher-librarians, there are none left in any elementary or secondary school.
The board has only one qualified person left in its entire library system. It is vital that children develop critical thinking skills and learn to evaluate what information is reliable and what isn't.
Does this negligence affect how our children learn? We had an excellent example in the very same issue of the Fort Frances Times, when we were treated to the stunning announcement that the cure for cancer had been discovered at long last.
Has the Nobel Prize for medicine just been awarded? Are major hospitals shutting down their oncology departments as no longer needed? No, but it's true just the same. We were told, “You can Google it.”
I want our students to have a better education than that. Parents should be grateful to the public libraries in our region for opening their arms to the students so woefully neglected by the school board.
And they should call their local school trustee and ask why this lamentable situation has been allowed to occur.
Donald Trump has been noted for saying he only knows what's on the Internet. That speaks for itself.
Rudolf K. F. Zeitlhofer
Fort Frances, Ont.