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Online Chatter: Banning Halloween in School

Amid increasing pressure from a variety of sources, public schools across the country are taking steps to eliminate traditional Halloween celebrations. From the Pacific Northwest to the Mid-Atlantic, students are being told not to dress up in costumes and informed that parades and candy exchanges will no longer happen.

These moves haveHalloween prompted many people to take to the Internet and voice their opinions.

Is it a religious issue?

Buckman Elementary School in Portland, OR canceled Halloween in 2011 because of what principal Brian Anderson described as an unequal school environment the celebration created.

“There are social, financial and cultural differences among our families that we must respect,” Anderson said in a letter to parents. “We’re pushing our traditions on an ever-changing population. Halloween is, in many ways, personal to some people, and to other people it’s very offensive.”

Buckman parent Shannon Brazil took to her blog to voice her displeasure over the move.

“This country’s obsession with the politically correct is really getting out of hand,” she wrote.

Another commenter, Dee Maurer, agreed:

“I think we are going about this all do you teach respect and tolerance for other cultures and traditions without allowing them to be displayed and enjoyed by all? I think it’s disrespectful to not allow traditions to be honored and displayed. We have gone over the line in the name of political correctness…”

Leslie Robertson Cundiff had a different point of view, objecting to the notion that Halloween is a religious holiday:

“This has nothing to do with being politically correct. It has to do with being religiously correct (incorrect is more like it). Halloween has become the devil’s holiday. It was never intended to be that way. It has never had anything to do with the devil…”

Or is it simply too big a distraction?

Elementary principals in Springfield, NJ, ended Halloween celebrations in 2011 because they felt that the students’ costumes presented a distraction to learning. Speaking to Springfield Patch, Superintendent Michael Davino explained that school, in his opinion, was not the place for dressing up.

“I do believe it is something you should do with your friends and with your family, and it is something you should do as an activity that has really nothing to do with school or about school,” Davino said.

Among the commenters on Fox News Radio’s story on this phenomenon was Jim Bridges, who sides with the administrators’ decisions:

“I grew up in Southern Illinois, and no one wore Halloween costumes to school. If we did, I'm sure we would have been sent home to change. School was for learning—not celebrating a holiday such as this. It had nothing to do with political correctness. It was just inappropriate for the situation. I happen to believe it is still inappropriate—regardless of what other parents say.”

Susan Weaver, a first-grade teacher and commenter, suggests some alternatives to Halloween celebrations:

“As a first-grade teacher, I did not allow costumes in my classroom. Why? 1) the time it took getting costumes on/off; 2) I did not want the responsibility of a ripped costume.

What did we do instead? We had language arts, math, science, social studies and art activities related to the holiday and fall.”

What do you think?

How does your school handle the issue of Halloween celebrations, and are you on board with this policy? If your school does NOT celebrate Halloween in the traditional manner, what is the reason (cultural or religious sensitivity, distraction from learning, or some other reason)? Has your school implemented any creative alternatives to traditional Halloween celebrations?


Article by Jason Tomaszewski, EducationWorld Associate Editor
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