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Reader: School board needs to reconsider priorities

    In dismay about this morning's (June 14) front-page report of a book shortage in Bulloch County schools, I suggest that the school board may need to reallocate some funds.
    According to the Herald's Al Hackle, board of education member Anshul Jain "noted a decrease of about $80,000 in a line item for books...," and complained that "There are teachers teaching with a single novel for the entire class." Jain described that condition as "countywide."
    If Jain's statement refers to an attempt to have students understand a worthwhile novel though having only one copy of that novel available in the classroom, the circumstances are certainly dire. Students' personal responses to a good novel constitute involvements with the humanities or with the arts, or with both.
    The value of that involvement is the subject of philosopher Martha C. Nussbaum's book, "Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs The Humanities" (Princeton, 2010). That book concludes, "If we do not insist on the crucial importance of the humanities and the arts, they will drop away, because they do not make money. They only do what is much more precious than that, make a world that is worth living in, people who are able to see other human beings as full people, with thoughts and feelings of their own that deserve respect and empathy, and nations that are able to overcome fear and suspicion in favor of sympathetic and reasoned debate."
    The school board should demonstrate that it recognizes "the crucial importance of the humanities and the arts," by allocating sufficient funds for books.
    The reading of good literature is so important it should be among the funding priorities.
Luther Scales

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