Dressed down for dressing up

A number of schools in Madison have foregone the celebration of Halloween over the past couple of years. The stated reason for not allowing Halloween costume parades at my school is that certain children, because of religious prohibitions, cannot participate, and therefore since a few are excluded from such an activity, such an event is deemed to be exclusionary. This is part of trend happening across the country. I don’t believe there is a district policy for this, at least one I could find. Despite the canard trotted out in such situations, boundary changes being one of the latest, the one that says “kids will get over it,” I can say my two children were quite upset and still bring up the ban each Halloween and a nostalgia for the event. Now comes a story out Reedsburg.

An elementary-school event in which kids were encouraged to dress as members of the opposite gender drew the ire of a Christian radio group, whose angry broadcast prompted outraged calls to the district office.

Students at Pineview Elementary in Reedsburg had been dressing in costume all last week as part of an annual school tradition called Wacky Week. On Friday, students were encouraged to dress either as senior citizens or as members of the opposite sex.

A local resident informed the Voice of Christian Youth America on Friday. The Milwaukee-based radio network responded by interrupting its morning programming for a special broadcast that aired on nine radio stations throughout Wisconsin. The broadcast criticized the dress-up day and accused the district of promoting alternative lifestyles. “We believe it’s the wrong message to send to elementary students,” said Jim Schneider, the network’s program director. “Our station is one that promotes traditional family values. It concerns us when a school district strikes at the heart and core of the Biblical values. To promote this to elementary-school students is a great error.”

The response surprised Principal Tammy Hayes, who said no one had raised any objections beforehand. She said a flier detailing Wacky Week had been sent home with children the prior week, and an announcement was also included in teacher newsletters.

The dress-up day was not an attempt to promote cross-dressing, homosexuality or alternative gender roles, district administrator Tom Benson said. “The promotion of transgenderism — that was not our purpose,” Benson told the Baraboo News Republic. “Our purpose was to have a Wacky Week, mixing in a bit of silliness with our reading, writing and arithmetic.”

Our school’s “Wacky Day” dress up just took place recently, miraculously surviving censure. I wonder when it too will be ended. What are these people afraid of?

Robert Godfrey

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1 Comment

Filed under Best Practices, education, Gimme Some Truth

One response to “Dressed down for dressing up

  1. Gary L.Stout

    NCLB and Democratic Classrooms 4-19-08

    I have been addressing the Madison School Board since the beginning of the year about the devastating effects of NCLB.

    Every year the needs of our children grow while our ability to meet those needs lessens. I have written what I call my “Manifesto” titled “Say No To NCLB”. I sent it to all the members of the Madison School Board and didn’t get a response from any member until I sent it a second time and was told I was singing to the choir. Not a good choice of words because I can’t hear the choir.

    My Manifesto and three minute addresses to the school board are on my web site if you are interested (www.sealk.info). SEALK stands for Social, Emotional, and Academic Learning in Kindergarten.

    I am commenting today because one of the most devastating things NCLB has done to our children is that it has eliminated, or is the process of eliminating, the democratic classroom. Bush once said that it would be a lot easier to run this country if it was a dictatorship. He is right.

    Democracy is lost when leaders run the country on fear, helplessness, and hopelessness. That is exactly their agenda for our public schools as well as the whole of society. Schools have to abide by the mandated developmentally inappropriate practices of NCLB or they will lose what little funding they presently struggle for.

    Teachers, parents, school administrators, school boards, and concerned citizens need to have the
    courage to say no to the undermining of our schools and the undermining of the success of our
    children. We need to say no to NCLB.

    I am not sure how to approach this undertaking. One major problem is that the general public thinks NCLB, because of its title, is a great law. It is just the opposite. It was passed after nine-eleven
    primarily because of nationalism. Without nine-eleven this law would not have passed because of it’s countless flaws.

    I really appreciate TJ’s Blog Site and his, and other contributors, concern for the best education for our children. Any ideas as to how to get things going? Gary L. Stout

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