Saturday, February 06, 2016

Christmas Holiday OUT, Lunar New Year IN: Schools

Political correctness is the objective as public schools debate calendars, but from one district to the next, their PC goal seems elusive.
"I have come to the difficult decision to discontinue the celebration of the dominant holidays until we can come to a better understanding of how the dominant view will suppress someone else's view."
-- Principal Scott Masini, Bruce Vento Elementary School in St. Paul, Minnesota
For background, read 'Allahu Akbar' Taught in Minnesota School for Christmas

Click headlines below to read previous articles:

Jewish Mom Opposes School's Santa Claus Christmas

Angry Muslims Demand School Holiday for Ramadan in New Jersey

D.C. Muslims Force Christmas Off Maryland School Calendar

Muslims Force Maryland Schools Closed Routinely

New Jersey Atheist Official Has Hissy Fit over Christmas Tree

Atheists Help Liberal Schools in Oregon Ban Christmas Choirs

Also read Texas School Supt. Tells Atheists to Go Fly a Kite

-- From "Minnesota school bans holiday celebrations for Valentine's Day, Christmas, more" by The Associated Press 2/3/16

Bruce Vento Elementary in St. Paul is joining other public schools in opting out of holiday celebrations as school officials strive to be more culturally sensitive and inclusive. The school has a predominantly Asian and black student body, and English is a second language for more than half of its pupils, who come from a range of faith backgrounds.

In a letter to parents last week, Principal Scott Masini said his rationale was to avoid "encroaching on the educational opportunities of others and threatening a culture of tolerance and respect for all." He acknowledged it would be an unpopular decision for some.

The letter drew both criticism and support as it started circulating on social media, with some people praising the policy for its sensitivity to diverse cultures and others decrying it as political correctness. The Star Tribune newspaper in Minneapolis ran an editorial calling the decision misguided and urged Masini to reconsider.

As word spread, the school district issued a statement saying its longstanding policy "discourages programs and festivities that celebrate observances unless they are required by law." That means government holidays celebrating the birthdays of President George Washington, President Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr., along with Veterans Day, are still OK.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "[New York] City schools to close Monday for Lunar New Year" by Diane C. Lore, Staten Island Advance 2/5/16

Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Schools Chancellor Carmen FariƱa announced the addition of the new holiday to the school calendar in June.

The city school system will become only the second major urban school district in the nation, after San Francisco, to close on [the Asian] Lunar New Year.

When de Blasio announced in early March last year that the Mulsim holy days Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr would appear on this year's school calendar, Lunar New Year advocates began to push to have their holiday added.

The Department of Education was able to add the Lunar New Year holiday to the school calendar by consolidating two half-days previously designated for staff administrative work, of which neither could count toward the 180-day minimum, into one full day. This allowed room for the addition of the Lunar New Year without any loss in state aid-able days.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "New York City Schools to Celebrate Lunar New Year with Day Off for First Time" by Chris Fuchs, NBC News 2/1/16

. . . the city's 12 congressional members sent a letter to de Blasio dated March 9, saying they were happy Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr would become public school holidays, but were "puzzled and concerned" about why Lunar New Year was left out. Four days later, city and state elected officials held a rally outside City Hall. On April 1, legislation was introduced in Albany to amend New York's education law to recognize Lunar New Year as a public school holiday for any city with one-million people — namely New York City.

Former Queens state Assemblyman Jimmy Meng, a Democrat, was the first to propose such a bill in 2005, but it failed to gain a sponsor in the state Senate. Meng's daughter Grace, a former state assemblywoman who is now a Democrat congresswoman from Queens, also introduced legislation in early 2009 with support from state Sen. Daniel Squadron, a Democrat whose district includes Chinatown.

After several months went by without any news, more than 40 elected officials, advocacy groups, and community leaders sent an open letter to de Blasio in June, saying his administration did not keep a promise to meet before the end of May for discussions. Around the same time, the state Senate unanimously approved a bill making Lunar New Year a public school holiday.

Following mounting pressure, the mayor, who controls the city's school system with state approval, announced on June 22 through Twitter that Lunar New Year would be added to the 2015-2016 calendar. The message was published in English, Chinese, and Korean.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Valentine's Day ban touches off wider debate on school celebrations" by Beena Raghavendran and Zoe Peterson, Minneapolis Star Tribune 2/2/16

Across the metro area and the country, schools are juggling sensitivity with holiday fun as student bodies become increasingly diverse. Several schools have turned to seasonal celebrations to include all students, and some have scaled back in-class celebrations to save teaching time.

[St. Paul's] Vento school is echoing that rationale in its decision to stop celebrating major holidays, to avoid “encroaching on the educational opportunities of others and threatening a culture of tolerance and respect for all,” Masini said in the letter addressed to families. “My personal feeling is we need to find a way to honor and engage in holidays that are inclusive of our student population.”

Masini was cheered and jeered by people online. Some said fun was being sucked out of schools. He responded in a comment released by the school district Thursday. “I’m struggling with this and I don’t know what the right answer is,” he said. “But, what I do know is celebrating some holidays and not others is not inclusive of all of the students we serve.

Wayzata Public Schools no longer observes specific holidays, opting instead for seasonal celebrations, said spokeswoman Amy Parnell. Valentine’s Day is the only exception — certain schools still decide to recognize the holiday.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "St. Paul school might abandon celebration of 4 holidays" by Josh Verges, St. Paul Pioneer Press 2/1/16

The policy reads, in part:  “Schools shall discourage programs and festivities arranged to celebrate holidays and other special days, and shall strive to eliminate them, except where such observances are required by law.”

Exceptions to the policy are Veterans Day and the birthdays of Martin Luther King, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. When school is held on those days, state law says “at least one hour of the school program must be devoted to a patriotic observance of the day.”

[St. Paul Public Schools spokeswoman Toya] Stewart Downey said Superintendent Valeria Silva supports the district’s policy on holiday observances. But the district will gather input from schools in case the school board wants to change the policy.

[Principal] Masini said the school no longer would celebrate Valentine’s Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving or Christmas . . .

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

Also read Majority in U.S. Want Christmas Celebrated WITHIN Schools: Poll