A Project for Better Journalism chapter
Student Life

Missing English Books are Stacking Up

As first semester comes to a close at Northampton High School, teachers are once again faced with the challenge of unreturned books, the cost of which reached $7,000 last year alone.

Susan Crago, the AP Junior English teacher, said, “it can be very frustrating when students do not return their books.” Unlike the other literature based courses NHS offers, her class focuses on language composition, and only a few different books are distributed, but each book is much more expensive than books in more literature heavy courses. The two main books students use cost about $100 per student, and if even two students don’t return their books, there may not be enough books for the classes the next semester.

Principal Bryan Lombardi stressed that unreturned books present a serious issue. “The school is also having trouble replacing lost books because there is a very set budget,” said Lombardi. A student can pay for a lost book, but that money will not buy the same book, it will be placed in the English department book fund. Many of the existing books are not in the best condition, and students complain about it all the time, but because books keep getting lost, students aren’t trusted with new books.

While administration would like a consequence for this action, options are limited. Crago suggested that a possible consequence could be that, “a student cannot receive the next book until they have turned in the previous one”. However, she adds that this could pose a problem for some students who would not be able to keep up with class discussions. Lombardi touched on this idea as well, but agreed that he cannot deny education to any student, so this punishment would not be ideal.

He did say, however, that if students do not return books or pay for lost ones by graduation, their diploma will be withheld.

Teachers have also tried positive reinforcement to get their books back. For example, some teachers give out extra credit to students who return their books, but Crago and her department colleague Heather Brown agreed that they prefer to grade students solely on performance. Crago also commented that, “if a student is capable of taking an AP class, they should be able to manage a book and return it on time.”

Brown uses the technique of pestering her students until they turn them in, and attempts to heighten the moral responsibility the student has to the teacher.