Students are apt to settle a question rightly when it is discussed freely. Unfortunately in today’s political climate, this rarely happens.
Wayland High School in Wayland, MA recently finished mid-year exams. Traditionally after the exams are finished, they run Winter Week in which students engage in enrichment. For the last two years, Winter Week has included a movie watched as an entire school by all of the students. The movie each year is chosen by Wayland High School Student Council for the purpose of bringing the school together with a positive message.
This year Wayland High School Student Council chose the feel-good, PG rated, 1993 Disney comedy Cool Runnings, about the 1988 Jamaican Bobsled Team. The story is about one of the most famous Olympic underdog stories ever as people from a hot climate country without snow, prepare for a winter bobsled event.
Hours after the movie was announced to the high school students and one day before the movie was to be viewed, the principal sent out an email saying the movie was cancelled!
Following the recent announcement that Cool Runnings would be the movie shown this year, I received concerns from members of our community that raised my awareness about elements of the movie that could be viewed as culturally and racially insensitive. After researching these concerns further, I felt that Cool Runnings no longer fit the purpose, values, and scheduling format for an all-school event. I decided to cancel today’s showing. While disappointing for students, I want to emphasize that this experience has inspired productive, honest conversation about stereotypes in the media, the nature of narrative, and subtle, racially insensitive messages as compared to overt racism.
We have become aware of criticism related to racially insensitive portrayals of characters in the movie. The nature of these concerns is important to validate and certainly does not reflect our mission as a school. More than anything, this event has demonstrated that active and engaged citizenship at WHS is alive and well. I am proud of the students who have listened carefully, challenged respectfully, and reflected deeply during this experience.
Wayland High School Principal
Over 150 angry students sent the principal a reply to her email disagreeing with the decision to ban this children’s movie. The email firestorm caused the principal to schedule an emergency forum with students the next morning. The Wayland High School student newspaper later conducted a poll surveying 115 students. 113 students thought the rated PG kids movie should be shown while only 2 students agreed with the principal’s decision.
Should this children’s movie be banned from Wayland High School or is this a case of political correctness out of control?
Halloween has been officially cancelled at the Mitchell Elementary School in Needham, MA. Every year children at the school enjoy Halloween themed classroom parties and a school parade. However this is all about to change. Due to an occasional student that chooses to not participate or finds Halloween offensive, acknowledging the fun-filled children’s holiday is now banned.
Principal Greg Bayse said the school is cancelling its traditional Halloween celebrations for the purpose of “reducing exclusion among students”. According to the Principal, the staff claims, “ending the practice would promote inclusivity”. He goes on to say that banning Halloween “…is a positive change that will benefit our students and our community.”
We have also heard reports of other schools that have decided to follow suit. Do you remember enjoying Halloween when you were in school? Do your children enjoy Halloween? Should Halloween be banned in school for everyone to accommodate an occasional child that opts to not participate or has the world gone insane?
Do you remember when you were a child and your mother would bring in cupcakes to celebrate your birthday? Do you remember bringing in food for a holiday party for the last day before winter break? Remember trading some of your lunch items you didn’t want with a friend? Do you remember trading Halloween candy with your classmates the day after Halloween? Well no more! This is according to the food allergy policy at the Newton Public Schools in Newton, MA and other schools throughout the country. They are using political correctness to ruin celebrations for the entire student population due to a few that may have an allergy.
Here is an excerpt from the Newton Public Schools policy:
“It is a citywide School Committee policy that the sharing of food during snack and/or lunch is not allowed . . . It is also the policy that no food is to be brought into the classroom which means no cupcakes for birthdays or candy at Halloween or Valentine’s Day.”
What happened to allowing kids to be kids? What happened to personal responsibility where if one is allergic to something, they simply say “No thank you” and don’t eat it?
We just received a food allergy policy from one of the elementary schools at the Newton Public Schools in Newton, MA. What we found was shocking. Gone are the days of having the kids with allergies sit at a nut-free table. Now they are forcing all kids that eat nuts to sit at a nut table and kids with hummus and chick peas to sit at a separate table. Has the world gone crazy?
Below is an excerpt from the food allergy policy:
“There will be a nut table in the cafeteria. All students who bring lunch containing peanuts, other tree nuts (including some spreads such as Nutella) or sesame seeds must sit at this table. There will also be a hummus table in the cafeteria. All students who bring a lunch that has hummus or chickpeas must sit at this table. All children will wash their hands before snack/lunch. Children sitting at the nut table or hummus table must wash their hands after snack/lunch. The staff will also wash all tables following snack and lunch, with special attention being paid to the washing of the nut table and hummus table. Classrooms that have a student with an allergy will have a separate table for nuts/ hummus for snack time.”
HOW TO MAKE KIDS WANT TO READ #2: Comics, Magazines and Newspapers Count
Reading must be fun or a child won’t read it. Not all reading comes in the form of a book. Allow your student to choose comic books, magazines, and newspapers. Superhero comics, graphic novels, sports magazines, MAD Magazine, and the sports section of the newspaper are some of the most exciting reading out there. Encourage them to read these if they hate reading books. Don’t worry that these are not considered “fine classic literature” by all the snobby know-it-alls. Reading is reading and these items are fun.
RACIST TEXTBOOK EDITOR OR POLITICAL CORRECTNESS OUT OF CONTROL?
Yesterday we looked at how Brookline, MA banned a textbook in all of its schools because of 7 people that claimed they were offended by 2 sentences they deemed to be racist. Was this a case of a racist textbook editor trying to offend people or an accurate portrayal of history? Further investigation found that the co-editor of this textbook is a university English professor and African-American. He claims that the description of slavery in the textbook may not be politically correct but painted a more accurate, complete picture of slavery. He said of the controversy, “It was a cruel, horrible institution. But there were conflicted slave owners, whose slaves were treated differently than others.”
UPROAR OVER HISTORY TEXTBOOK – BUT IS IT JUSTIFIED?
Is this a case of an inaccurate textbook or political correctness run amok? The town of Brookline, MA had to confront this problem over a 5th grade history textbook, which has been used by them and other schools for over a decade without a problem. The issue was a chapter in the 2003 edition of “Harcourt Horizons: United States History”. About 7 people complained after finding the following passage from the textbook offensive:
“Slaves were treated well or cruelly, depending on their owners. Some planters took pride in being fair and kind to their slaves.”
As a result of the claims that the previous 2 sentences were racist or insensitive, the textbooks have been banned from all Brookline, MA schools. Should the textbook be banned? Is this the case of a racist editor? Tomorrow we will look at who the textbook’s editor is and what he has to say about the controversy.
BANNED TEXTBOOK OFFENSIVE?
There has been major controversy over an elementary school history textbook in one local town. A fifth grade history textbook caused quite a commotion in the town of Brookline, MA. The book in question has been used for over 10 years without a problem. This year about 7 people claimed to be offended by a section of this textbook and wanted it banned.
Tomorrow we will examine the controversial passage from this textbook in question and let you decide for yourself if the uproar is justified.
There has been a push by some to extend the school day. They call it ELT (Extended Learning Time). There is a growing backlash from parents that in fact find this to be a bad idea. They maintain that longer school days cut into family time, sports, theater activities and tire out kids. Those promoting this idea tend to be wealthy philanthropy organizations with big ideas about education and trying to push their ideas on middle class families who are on the receiving end. Kids need a chance to unwind and have free play. A 6-7 hour school day is more than enough time to get everything done that they should be doing. What do you think?