THE Answer

Months ago, as I was preparing to leave for the ISTE conference, I read an article in The New York Times about staffing cuts in public libraries.  The article also discussed budget cuts in the school libraries around the U.S. Due to budget cuts, some school systems in Oregon and Illinois chose to cut library programs as an answer to saving money. The answer (I thought) was ridiculous. The article angered me so much that I had to write.  This poem titled, THE Answer was created.

Thinking about the poem, The Hangman by Maurice Ogden, I tried to create a piece that would highlight the absurdity that closed libraries don't affect student performance.  Keep in mind, it's a work in progress.  One of the first people I showed this to compared it to a Dr. Seuss story.  Not exactly what I was going for... Your comments and suggestions will be appreciated.

NOTE- Please link people to this blog if you wish to share the poem.

THE Answer by T.K. Love
Into our school, the governor came to visit.
Looking important in a pressed suit…resplendent.
Gathered was a group of teachers, students, parents
Looking forward to the governor’s comments.

The governor scanned the crowd, looking quickly.
Looking for constituents…but bleakly.
Briskly unfurling the budget, grasped in hand.
Calmly the governor shared the budget plans.     

“This state is in need of a fiscal diet.”
I’m here to trim the fat.” The crowd stayed silent.
“Shrink this budget in half, by one million.
Then gauge other excesses, I’m not feeling.

Two schools will become one, no more P.E.
Get rid of any clubs for diversity.
The school day, I’ll just cut that thing in half;
each school will get rid of forty of their staff.

Or…we could close the libraries. Save tons.
Who uses them anyway? Your daughters? Sons?
Why not spend the money on technology?
Do research on Google and Bing. They’re both free.”

The governor’s closing statement had the mob.
Just by closing libraries, they could save jobs.
Just by closing libraries, kids would have computers
There’d be less  thinkers in the world.  More doers.

With one quick stroke of a pen and one fell swoop,
Libraries in the state were closed. Other points…moot.
The library books were stored in warehouses.
Dells and Macs  were moved – enhancing tech prowess.

It didn’t haunt them until a year later,
when the state’s test scores were in the newspaper.
“Lowest of the low” the bold headline stated.
“Why State’s scores Head South” were topics debated.

The first year, a state panel was created.
The topic of the schools’ decline were debated.
The second year, studies of the score meltdown.
Professors and researchers visited towns.
 Third year…the state still saw a steady decline.
Parents and teachers were losing their minds.

Not until the fourth year, at local diner was it said,
That maybe the scores were low because no one read
for enjoyment, information… gather info.
Could scores be low because the libraries were closed?

Students had no place to go with their questions;
they could no longer expand their classroom lessons.
Surfing the web had become a way to be.
Maybe, just maybe these kids needed to read.

“Just read?”  some questioned.  “How could that be a need?
Closing libraries was the answer. We agreed.”
So public and school libraries remained closed
And to this day, no one in the state knows
why the state’s scores declined, but I’m sure that you do
because your public and school libraries were left open to you.


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