Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Claremont School District Erupts into Battle over Thanksgiving Celebration, and Political Correctness
Remember when you were a little kid and at Thanksgiving you would make turkeys by tracing your hand on construction paper, and dress up as pilgrims and Indians to celebrate the early friendship of the new Americans and the natives that already lived in North America?
For forty years kindergartners in the Claremont Unified School district have done something similar, dressing up as pilgrims and Indians as one school visits another to share a feast.
Today, however, when the kids planned to meet for this tradition, due to the complaint of a single parent, the children's parents were ordered to not allow their children to wear their hand-made costumes, and instead wear their school spirit shirts for the festivities.
The complaining parent, Michelle Reheja, claimed the event was "demeaning" and "inappropriate." Whe wrote to the school board, "I'm sure you can appreciate the inappropriateness of asking children to dress up like slaves (and kind slave masters), or Jews (and friendly Nazis), or members of any other racial minority group who has struggled in our nation's history."
That's right, this college professor claimed that a simple child's depiction of the traditional tale of two peoples giving thanks over a shared meal was a stereotype that would never be allowed of other racial, ethnic or religious groups. "There is nothing to be served by dressing up as a racist stereotype," she claimed.
When word got out that both the Condit and Mountain View campuses were going to be ordered to cancel the event by the school district, infuriated parents argued over the matter at a heated school board meeting. In the end, the decision was to hold the event, but without the costumes. A memo was sent out at the end of last week confirming the decision.
The parents, however, decided that political correctness wasn't going to ruin the fun, or the lesson, for their children, and 90% of the parents dressed their kids up in the costumes anyhow.
In addition to sending their children to school in costume today, the parents also plan to keep their children home tomorrow, costing the district attendance funds to punish them for modifying the event in an apparent bowing down to a single politically correct parent.
One parent declared, "She's not going to tell us what we can and cannot wear. We're tired of [district officials] cowing down to people. It's not right."
During the event Michelle Reheja staged a protest outside with a dozen other University of California colleagues. They held signs, and shouted their anger, calling the parents of the children that dressed up, "haters." At one point the protesters got into shouting matches with some parents.
The children did not know of the protest. They were inside, enjoying a Thanksgiving meal, and sharing with their classmates the opportunity to give thanks.