Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island has been doing some extra reading recently. One of the Democrat’s favorite new discoveries? Airline Stewardess: A Picture Story.
“West Point and Annapolis are great favorites with stewardesses,” the book, published in 1960, says on a page featuring a photo of two young women being courted by handsome military cadets.
Until last fall, Airline Stewardess was on the shelf of a public school library in Philadelphia.
Sen. Reed recently cited that and other outdated books as part of his crusade to provide federal assistance to school libraries. He read a few excerpts during the Senate education committee’s deliberations this month on a bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
“The career of airline stewardess is one of the most interesting for young women and, in many ways, one of the most rewarding,” the book says.
Near the conclusion, it says: “What’s ahead for the stewardess? Apart from marriage, there are several attractive posts open to her.”
The first-term senator is hoping lawmakers will include his plan to provide $275 million to support school libraries in the final ESEA bill. The money could be used to update materials, buy new books, improve technology, and train personnel.
“Too many books on school library shelves across the country contain harmful stereotypes and inaccurate material,” Mr. Reed said in a statement. “Congress can and should provide provide funding to improve our children’s books.” (“Era of Neglect in Evidence at Libraries,” Dec. 1, 1999.)
His amendment was rejected by Republicans on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, but he will try again when the ESEA is brought to the Senate floor.
The senator has created a space on his World Wide Web site for visitors to list similar outdated materials from school libraries. It can be accessed at reed.senate.gov/library.htm.
—Erik W. Robelen
A version of this article appeared in the March 22, 2000 edition of Education Week