by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Every book published prior to 2008 has been removed from a public high school library in Canada to ensure that kids are not exposed to non-inclusivity. Yes, you read that correctly. Imagine the surprise of students at Erindale Secondary School in Mississauga, Ontario, when they entered the school’s library last spring to discover…empty shelves. Staff told them, “If the shelves look emptier right now it’s because we have to remove all books [published] prior to 2008.”
Why? Because “The Peel District School Board works to ensure that the books available in our school libraries are culturally responsive, relevant, inclusive, and reflective of the diversity of our school communities and the broader society,” according to the school board.
And the Ontario Ministry of Education (OME) describes the PDSB’s “equitable curation cycle” as “a three-step process that holds Peel staff accountable for being critically conscious of how systems operate, so that we can dismantle inequities and foster practices that are culturally responsive and relevant.” What are these three steps?
Step 1: Teachers/librarians are instructed to focus on reviewing books that were published 15 or more years ago (AKA problematic books).
Step 2: An anti-racist and inclusive audit is conducted, during which a book’s quality and appeal are defined by “resources that promote anti-racism, cultural responsiveness and inclusivity.”
Step 3: A second — or “representation” — audit is performed, noting how books (and other resources) reflect student diversity.
What happens to the books that don’t pass muster? Apparently, they are “S-canned,” because board documents state they could be “causing harm.” Causing harm?! Yes, the musty old books could be a health hazard, either because of their physical condition or because “they are not inclusive, culturally responsive, relevant or accurate.” Ergo, the board documents say the books cannot be donated, as “they are not suitable for any learners.”