EVEN OLD BOOKS HAVE USE
The TDSB, initials which could stand for Toronto Dumb Silly Board, has never dazzled parents or taxpayers with wisdom, common sense or economy.
The Toronto District School Board, which is too busy being politically correct, is the kind of outfit that knows how to spend but not how to save, to protect incompetent teachers and overpay every one else.
When I talk about the school system of Ontario back in the ancient times when I was a student, I never say that I graduated but that I survived.
I used to take a quiet pride in the fact that my dad, a popular east-end GP, had been chairman of the city school board. Unfortunately a series of stumblebums and PC trustees since has taken away my family pride.
So what has me annoyed this time? No, not those stories of a few months ago about how much the TDSB pays for routine chores like hanging stuff or fixing doors. The board demonstrated such disregard for the public purse in simple maintenance that it was a laughing stock in the media. For me to add more insults is like kicking a dead cat on that issue.
No, this time it's the discovery that it is dumping old books, such as a Canadian history book that cost more than $90 each, because it says it can't give them away and needy countries can't afford the transportaiton costs if they were gifted.
I doubt if they tried that hard. Or maybe there was not enough time to work out a reasonable giveaway plan between summer holidays, Easter and Christmas vacations, professional development days (which never seem to work) and sick days.
(I just had another example of the TDSB incompetence when the junior school near my home, Sunnylea, fell silent this week because the pupils have escaped for the summer. So what's the big deal? For weeks, noisy construction equipment has been pounding away at one end of the school just metres from the early grades who are distracted so easily. This week, the equipment was silent.. What stupidity it was to have the construction going on during school hours when summer holidays were so close.)
Ontario has been blessed with great lieutenant-governors, and one of the most competent and nicest, James Bartleman, distinguished himself by putting together volunteers and public agencies to ship thousands of old books to northern communities and native communities where books were rare.
It was a huge success, proof that there is no need for a dumpster to be filled with history books outside Harbord Collegiate Institute.
The blunt truth is that old school books can be useful if only the TDSB got off its ass and showed some initiative and ingenuity. Perhaps use the imagination that is now wasted on feeble excuses saying there is no use for books dumped because there are now new versions. Presumably the new edition has more "sensitive" language and watered-down versions of the often turbulent and bloody history of the world.
The high cost of textbooks is scandalous. Often the old version is good enough. My defence as a husband and father who paid for 22 years of university texts was to pay for only half the cost of the textbooks to encourage the hunt for older but adequate versions.
Of course the TDSB has the taxpayers to buy their books, and goodness knows there are all those publishers to subsidize, and all those teachers who like to write textbooks for the money.
It was over 160 years ago that Egerton Ryerson, founder of our school system and the education complex of St. James Square now occupied by Ryerson University, determined that it was vital that the colony that was not yet a country have a central system for school books and school libraries.
He ranked the books as important as a teachers' college and model school. The cost was very important to him, and to all the private booksellers who mounted a vicious propaganda campaign against him.
They certainly didn't throw their books in the garbage then but passed them down through the school and the family until the covers and pages were tattered.
They don't have to do that anymore. Ain't progress wonderful! But not the taxes!