The Massachusetts school librarian who rejected Melania Trump’s book donation, saying Dr. Seuss books are ‘steeped in racist propaganda’, dressed up as The Cat in the Hat two years ago.
A photo of Cambridgeport Elementary School librarian Liz Phipps Soeiro wearing the famous cat costume resurfaced Friday.
The caption from the Cambridgeport School Specialists Twitter account revealed she was celebrating Dr. Seuss’s birthday with a ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ breakfast.
But in her denouncement of Melania’s book donation on the Horn Book blog website, she linked and cited the book ‘Is the Cat in the Hat Racist? Read Across America Shifts Away from Dr. Seuss and Toward Diverse Books’ by Philip Nel.
According to the school website, she was also a librarian for Watertown Public Schools and at MIT.
In her Facebook profile picture, she is sitting in front of a bulletin board featuring influential African Americans and civil rights leaders. She is reading the book ‘Rad American Women A-Z.’
The First Lady criticized Soeiro for rejecting her donation of nearly a dozen books.
‘She has demonstrated this in both actions and words since her husband took office, and sending books to children across the country is but one example,’ the first lady’s spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham told The Hill in a statement.
‘To turn the gesture of sending young students some books into something divisive is unfortunate.’
The mayor of Dr. Seuss’ hometown of Springfield, Massachusetts also bashed Soeiro, saying her comments were ‘political correctness at its worst.’ Mayor Domenic Sarno said in a statement: ‘One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish, I think her comments stink and are ridiculous towards our beloved Dr. Seuss.’
The White House earlier this month announced that one school from each state would receive a shipment of Dr. Seuss books as part of National Read a Book Day.
But Soeiro said her school did not need the books in an open letter. She described the Dr. Seuss books donated to the school as ‘steeped in racist propaganda, caricatures, and harmful stereotypes.’
Along with the donation came a letter from the First Lady, which emphasized to students that receiving ‘an education is perhaps the most important and wondrous opportunity of your young lives’.
‘Remember,’ the letter says, ‘the key to achieving you dreams begins with learning to read. Find what you enjoy, anything that interests you, and read about it.’
‘Never stop learning and challenging yourself, and never give up on your dreams,’ the letter concludes.
Soeiro, whose school represents Massachusetts in the initiative, said on Thursday that her award winning library wasn’t in need of the literature.
‘My students have access to a school library with over nine thousand volumes and a librarian with a graduate degree in library science,’ Phipps Soeiro wrote.
‘Multiple studies show that schools with professionally staffed libraries improve student performance,’ she added.
Phipps Soeiro also criticized the First Lady’s choice in books, which included ‘The Cat in the Hat,’ ‘One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish,’ ‘The Foot Book,’ ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ and ‘Oh, the Places You’ll Go!,’ CBS Boston reported.
‘You may not be aware of this, but Dr. Seuss is a bit of a cliché, a tired and worn ambassador for children’s literature. As First Lady of the United States, you have an incredible platform with world-class resources at your fingertips,’ she wrote.
The elementary school employee also took a jab at the Trump administration’s education policy, specifically striking out against Betsy DaVos.
‘Why not go out of your way to gift books to underfunded and underprivileged communities that continue to be marginalized and maligned by policies put in place by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos?’ she wrote.
Phipps Soeiro continues by claiming that ‘cities like Philadelphia, Chicago, and Detroit are suffering through expansion privatization, and school ‘choice’ with no interest in outcomes of children, their families, their teachers and their schools.’
She then asks: ‘Are those kids any less deserving of books simply because of circumstances beyond their control?’
The school district later said that Phipps Soeiro ‘was not authorized to accept or reject donated books on behalf of the school or school district,’ adding that her opinions do not reflect that of the school system.
‘We have counseled the employee on all relevant policies, including the policy against public resources being used for political purposes,’ the district wrote in a statement.
SOURCE: Daily Mail, Daniel Roth and Kaileen Gaul