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Trick or Treat? Boston School Bans Fall Holidays for Being Too ‘Insensitive

Halloween costume

Want to take the wind out of your kids' sails in a hurry? Tell them they can't wear a Halloween costume to school.

There is no better holiday than Thanksgiving, as far as I’m concerned. There just isn’t. You don’t have to shop for gifts. You spend all day with family. You eats lots (and lots) of good food. And then there are leftovers the next day (the food, and sometimes family). What could be bad?

So if you were to have told me I couldn’t celebrate it back when I was in school, I would have told you to to take a hike. Which is what I’d be telling a school principal if I lived in Somerville, Mass. She has declared that Thanksgiving, Halloween and Columbus Day will no longer be celebrated in school.

Surely she must be joking, right? Well, she’s not, according to the Boston Herald. And I’m guessing she’s just serious enough that she wouldn’t appreciate being called Shirley, either.

Anne Foley is large and in charge at the Kennedy School. She accuses Christopher Columbus of performing “atrocities.” She won’t let kids dress up for Halloween in part because of the holiday’s connection to witchcraft. (As the mother of a very sweet and eager 3-year-old already wearing her Dorothy dress and ruby red slippers ad nauseum, I would have already put in for a transfer.) And of Thanksgiving, she warned teachers, “We need to be careful.”

“When we were young we might have been able to claim ignorance of the atrocities that Christopher Columbus committed against the indigenous peoples,” wrote Kennedy School Principal Anne Foley, reports the Boston Herald. “We can no longer do so. For many of us and our students celebrating this particular person is an insult and a slight to the people he annihilated. On the same lines, we need to be careful around the Thanksgiving Day time as well.”

Somerville’s mayor and the school superintendent seem to be siding with her, at least to the extent that they recognize that “history is messy” and kids should learn to be sensitive to all cultures.

I ask again: Seriously? Since when is studying how we give thanks for the bounty of the season and are grateful for family something about which kids need to be careful on the fourth Thursday in November? Who really thinks about actual witchcraft when dressing up as a pumpkin and eating candy on the last day in October? And Columbus Day? In the 21st century does it mean much more than mattress and car sales and a possible day off from school?

Shouldn’t these holidays be teaching moments for kids? About opening up dialogue? Or should kids be made to feel ashamed for something other people did centuries ago?

Maybe the Kennedy School is a fun place to be in the springtime. But you won’t catch me or my family there in the fall.

PS – What do you want to bet that this school principal is one of those people who gives out raisins or apples on Halloween?

Do you think this school principal is ridiculous, or does she have a point?

Image: Meredith Carroll

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