Santa visiting class in public school - Page 5 - Mothering Forums

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Old 12-18-2009, 10:45 PM
 
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I live in a city with a high population of poor people. Having a guy come into classrooms to tell kids that if they're good boys and girls, they'll have lots of nice things on Christmas morning....it sounds cruel to me. Lots of these kids don't even have a tree. Many of them are only getting small gifts through charities.
Agreed, but no has said that happened.

My kids attend an economically diverse school. The big big holiday thing for them (they are middle school aged) was a food drive and the proceeds went to families in the district. The school handled it really well. They did a good job of getting across the idea that in our hearts we are the same, even though some families have plenty to share this time of year and some families could use a little help. My kids have participated in food drives before, but this time was different. It was more positive and more real. I *think* and hope that it was positive for those kids attending the school whose families get assistance.

Santa does not visit our school, but images of him are fine. One of my DD's had santa cupcakes today at school.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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Old 12-19-2009, 03:15 AM
 
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Old 12-19-2009, 03:36 AM
 
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I grew up in a country that at the time of my childhood more than 90% of the population was catholic. And I was in the only Protestant Cristian in my school, the only one. I was the only one that didn't believed in Saints and I made a classmate cry when I told her that the Lady of Guadalupe was not real. Of course, it's different than the Santa deal, but I was the different one growing up becuase of my religion.

I was not allowed to go to the Halloween parties at school becuase according to my mom "halloween worships the devil" (which is funny becuase dd's birthday is ON Halloween) and I missed all the fun afterwards. And she convinced the school principal not to celebrate the holiday not once or twice but four consecutive years. Everybody knew that my religion was different from theirs and I was loathed for ruining their fun. Which of course wasn't my fault.

MIL is Jewish and just becuase she is doesn't mean that she will come to our house and ruin Christmas for DD and her fascination with Santa. She understands and respects and participates even. My best friend is Jewish as well, and she thinks Santa is fun.

And if you don't like the idea of Santa showing up on your child's school it's fine. Just don't try to ruin the fun for the rest of the kids, I know several non cristian parents that like the idea of their kids being exposed to certain celebration. Actually I think the overreactions are from people that are not in those situations. DD is homeschooled but I'm sure she would have been super excited of seeing Santa and do some other activities.

Bethsy, mamma to Leonor (4) and Owen JR (11/15/09), wife to Owen (10/12/03)
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Old 12-19-2009, 04:52 AM
 
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There is enough to celebrate during the different seasons without teaching or celebrating different religious symbols. Kids can enjoy a cupcake topped by a snowman just as much as one with Santa. I am Jewish and am equally bothered by seeing a menorah at school or on the White House lawn. I will take care of my children's religious teaching at home, thank you very much.
But why should we expect public schools to pretend that those different religious symbols don't even exist? I think it's better to acknowledge them, teach respect for them, and allow our children, in the place they spend a great deal of their lives and where they are likely to meet and work and play with others who celebrate those different religions, to develop tolerance and understanding of them.

Regarding your statement that I have bolded - Absolutely - parents should take care of their children's religious teaching at home. If parents are providing sound religious instruction to their children, they should have nothing to fear from exposure to other beliefs. If faith or belief are strong at home then they will withstand an age-appropriate exploration of the existence of other beliefs when they are outside the home. For "belief", I'm including any atheist, agnostic, humanist etc. principles.


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On the issue of inclusiveness, we are so very multi-cultural now that it would be nearly impossible for schools to be fully inclusive in terms of covering all the religions. So while you are trying hard to include a few other holidays that happen to fall during the same time of year, you are still excluding a whole lot of other "minority" beliefs. So, again, the best answer is to just keep anything with religious undertones out of the public schools system and off state/federal property.
I don't expect any school to teach everything about every subject. I expect schools to teach fundamental principles and a robust methodology for research, information gathering and analysis, and critical thinking skills. I don't expect a school to teach every literary work in the classical Western Canon. I don't expect a school to teach every scientific fact known to humans. Likewise, I wouldn't expect a school to teach the details of every religion and belief system. However, if a school community has families with particular beliefs, there should be some attempt to include those beliefs with any others that are being explored and studied.

Public schools ARE inclusive. They are required to accept any student regardless of religion or cultural background. That diversity is a huge strength of the public school system. Our children are lucky to have a place where they can develop friendships with "different" children, and learn tolerance, open-mindedness, co-operation and most of all, how to navigate these tricky issues - how to live amongst others who have different beliefs. These are skills that are desperately needed in a modern, global economy.

Pretending that different religious and cultural beliefs just don't exist, by prohibiting any acknowledgement of them, only serves to weaken and disable this significantly important aspect of the public school system. I don't think it's a mature way to deal with the issue of religious diversity, or realistic, for that matter. Children will talk about the important things in their lives. They will talk about family celebrations. Just because the teachers may avoid introducing it in the classroom, doesn't mean the children aren't telling each other all sorts of things. I'd rather the adults lead the discussion and provide information that can also be scrutinized by parents, than leave it entirely to the kids.
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Old 12-19-2009, 10:40 AM
 
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Personally, I feel it's time people stopped being offended and started trying to understand and respect cultures and traditions other than their own, all across the board. IE We're Christians, but will be attending a solstice party. I'm not getting bent out of shape that a friend invited me to be part of their traditions, I'm thankful that they thought to include my family and that my son can see how some members of his community celebrate. Another example would be my JW neighbor who insisted we bring the kids by on Halloween because though she does not celebrate, she enjoys seeing the kids in their costumes and wanted to see how our littles were dressed. If we were to celebrate all the diverse traditions together and focus on the fact that as humans we need celebration and joy we'd all be happier.
If you bothered to read my posts, you would see that our family celebrates others' holidays with them. DD has been exposed to Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu and Jain holidays. Wew happily send her to Catholic school now though I am Jewish and DH is Buddhist. WE CHOOSE to do this for ourselvews and for DD.


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But why should we expect public schools to pretend that those different religious symbols don't even exist? I think it's better to acknowledge them, teach respect for them, and allow our children, in the place they spend a great deal of their lives and where they are likely to meet and work and play with others who celebrate those different religions, to develop tolerance and understanding of them.

Regarding your statement that I have bolded - Absolutely - parents should take care of their children's religious teaching at home. If parents are providing sound religious instruction to their children, they should have nothing to fear from exposure to other beliefs. If faith or belief are strong at home then they will withstand an age-appropriate exploration of the existence of other beliefs when they are outside the home. For "belief", I'm including any atheist, agnostic, humanist etc. principles.




I don't expect any school to teach everything about every subject. I expect schools to teach fundamental principles and a robust methodology for research, information gathering and analysis, and critical thinking skills. I don't expect a school to teach every literary work in the classical Western Canon. I don't expect a school to teach every scientific fact known to humans. Likewise, I wouldn't expect a school to teach the details of every religion and belief system. However, if a school community has families with particular beliefs, there should be some attempt to include those beliefs with any others that are being explored and studied.

Public schools ARE inclusive. They are required to accept any student regardless of religion or cultural background. That diversity is a huge strength of the public school system. Our children are lucky to have a place where they can develop friendships with "different" children, and learn tolerance, open-mindedness, co-operation and most of all, how to navigate these tricky issues - how to live amongst others who have different beliefs. These are skills that are desperately needed in a modern, global economy.

Pretending that different religious and cultural beliefs just don't exist, by prohibiting any acknowledgement of them, only serves to weaken and disable this significantly important aspect of the public school system. I don't think it's a mature way to deal with the issue of religious diversity, or realistic, for that matter. Children will talk about the important things in their lives. They will talk about family celebrations. Just because the teachers may avoid introducing it in the classroom, doesn't mean the children aren't telling each other all sorts of things. I'd rather the adults lead the discussion and provide information that can also be scrutinized by parents, than leave it entirely to the kids.
And it is one thing for schools to acknowledge religion and holidays and it is another to sponsor a celebration of it. Again, no school should be sponsoring a religious celebration. Whether Santa is secular or not, he is there to celebrate Christmas with the kids and was asked to do so by the school. No thanks. I am not fearful that DD will come home from school as Christian just because Santa visited. That is not the point. We just do not need to celebrate religious holidays at school. It is not pretending that they do not exist. It is acknowledging that public school has a role to play in many things, but not in sponsoring a religious celebration. And, sorry, but I don't think that the visit by Santa and the Christmas party is a "teaching" moment. Just steer clear of it.

While inviting all the families to teach about the their respective religions and holidays sounds lovely, that is different from sponsoring a celebration. Yes, I love that public schools are diverse and want my DD to take part in that diversity, but that does not mean sponsoring celebrations of religious holidays at school. There are ways of ackowledging and teaching about diversity without sponsoring celebrations, which is very different than teaching about diversity and how we are all different in some respects and how we are all the same in others. I agree that we all have an interest in seeing that our children grow up to respect others.

DD has been fortunate to have travelled the world at such a young age, which has exposed her even more directly to other religions and cultures. Again, DD's upbringing has been all about sharing the holidays and traditions of her friends and family. We never turn down an invitation to celebrate with others. It is, indeed, truly wonderful and I would love to see more families do the same, but that is NOT my choice and it is not the public school's choice either.

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And if you don't like the idea of Santa showing up on your child's school it's fine. Just don't try to ruin the fun for the rest of the kids, I know several non cristian parents that like the idea of their kids being exposed to certain celebration. Actually I think the overreactions are from people that are not in those situations. DD is homeschooled but I'm sure she would have been super excited of seeing Santa and do some other activities.
Again, read my post, I am in that other "camp" but do not think that I am "overreacting" and am definitely in "those situations". Do not assume things about others just because they do not agree with you. I AM a parent that wants my DD to be exposed to other celebrations, I just do not believe that school-sponsored events are the way to go. I am not trying to ruin anybody's fun - there are a lot of other ways to have fun in school. Do you think most kids would turn down a cupcake with a snowman instead of Santa?

Apparently doing it rong and ruining it for everyone, but I don't give a crap anymorebanana.gif

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Old 12-19-2009, 11:05 AM
 
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I wouldn't like it. Consumerism, faith, and just plain too much of Santa everywhere already.

Our public school hosted a Santa visit on a Saturday...parents who wanted to attend went with their kids. That doesn't bother me but we homeschool and weren't invited.
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Old 12-19-2009, 11:14 AM
 
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But why should we expect public schools to pretend that those different religious symbols don't even exist? I think it's better to acknowledge them, teach respect for them, and allow our children, in the place they spend a great deal of their lives and where they are likely to meet and work and play with others who celebrate those different religions, to develop tolerance and understanding of them.

Regarding your statement that I have bolded - Absolutely - parents should take care of their children's religious teaching at home. If parents are providing sound religious instruction to their children, they should have nothing to fear from exposure to other beliefs. If faith or belief are strong at home then they will withstand an age-appropriate exploration of the existence of other beliefs when they are outside the home. For "belief", I'm including any atheist, agnostic, humanist etc. principles.




I don't expect any school to teach everything about every subject. I expect schools to teach fundamental principles and a robust methodology for research, information gathering and analysis, and critical thinking skills. I don't expect a school to teach every literary work in the classical Western Canon. I don't expect a school to teach every scientific fact known to humans. Likewise, I wouldn't expect a school to teach the details of every religion and belief system. However, if a school community has families with particular beliefs, there should be some attempt to include those beliefs with any others that are being explored and studied.

Public schools ARE inclusive. They are required to accept any student regardless of religion or cultural background. That diversity is a huge strength of the public school system. Our children are lucky to have a place where they can develop friendships with "different" children, and learn tolerance, open-mindedness, co-operation and most of all, how to navigate these tricky issues - how to live amongst others who have different beliefs. These are skills that are desperately needed in a modern, global economy.

Pretending that different religious and cultural beliefs just don't exist, by prohibiting any acknowledgement of them, only serves to weaken and disable this significantly important aspect of the public school system. I don't think it's a mature way to deal with the issue of religious diversity, or realistic, for that matter. Children will talk about the important things in their lives. They will talk about family celebrations. Just because the teachers may avoid introducing it in the classroom, doesn't mean the children aren't telling each other all sorts of things. I'd rather the adults lead the discussion and provide information that can also be scrutinized by parents, than leave it entirely to the kids.

I am LOVING your posts. This is fantastic.

Heather, WAHM to DS (01/04)DD (06/06). Wed to DH(09/97)
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Old 12-19-2009, 12:28 PM
 
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I am LOVING your posts. This is fantastic.
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Old 12-19-2009, 12:43 PM
 
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And it is one thing for schools to acknowledge religion and holidays and it is another to sponsor a celebration of it. Again, no school should be sponsoring a religious celebration. Whether Santa is secular or not, he is there to celebrate Christmas with the kids and was asked to do so by the school. No thanks. I am not fearful that DD will come home from school as Christian just because Santa visited. That is not the point. We just do not need to celebrate religious holidays at school. It is not pretending that they do not exist. It is acknowledging that public school has a role to play in many things, but not in sponsoring a religious celebration. And, sorry, but I don't think that the visit by Santa and the Christmas party is a "teaching" moment. Just steer clear of it.
I don't love the idea of a visit from Santa Claus in the school myself. It isn't the hill I would die on IRL in terms of working toward exposure to religious and cultural diversity in public schools. My posts have been directed more to the idea that ANY religious symbolism and ANY religious discussion must be forbidden and ignored in public school.

I appreciate your thoughtful posts and the tone of them. Your point about sponsoring celebrations vs. exploring and learning about them is a good one, although I think there would often be a blurry line between them. I disagree, though, that the answer to the issue of religious diversity is to steer clear of it in the public schools.
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Old 12-19-2009, 01:02 PM
 
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Again, read my post, I am in that other "camp" but do not think that I am "overreacting" and am definitely in "those situations". Do not assume things about others just because they do not agree with you. I AM a parent that wants my DD to be exposed to other celebrations, I just do not believe that school-sponsored events are the way to go. I am not trying to ruin anybody's fun - there are a lot of other ways to have fun in school. Do you think most kids would turn down a cupcake with a snowman instead of Santa?
I think the trouble is not all parents do the things you are doing. Public schools have many downfalls, especially in the US, but one great thing about public education is that it is there to support those kids who don't get a certain kind of support at home. Not every parent takes their kids to the museums, not every parent reads to their child, not every parent celebrates with their child, and some kids would never get the experiences your child is getting if it's not for their classroom.

I don't think it's healthy for Public Schools to pretend that holidays, celebrated in vast majority of households across the country, do no exist. It's not normal, and I don't get the push for it, at all. The whole North Pole ordeal is part of our modern folklore. You don't have to embrace it or believe it, but how can anyone be upset that a holiday celebrated in 95 out of 100 homes is discussed in the classroom? Why shouldn't it be? What about just the magic of it?

I feel like it's all pulled apart into something fake... On one side, the commercial side of it with "buy buy buy", on another side the political message of separation of church and state, and there is this one other side of a kid who spreads the reindeer food in his backyard and leaves cookies for Santa, and waits to hear the noise but falls asleep anyway just to find the presents in the morning. I remember that feeling, and it was magical, and I remember the our Ukrainian "Santa" coming over to our preschool, and THAT was magical. Kids grow up with magical stories, and we try to put our adult spin on it until all magic is sucked out. The classrooms could use some folklore, even if it's in the form of Santa. When did the childhood become so deconstructed?

On to the child that's left out - there is ALWAYS a parent that doesn't agree with what you think. Always. It can be on math curriculum, it can be on the choice of having Crazy Fruit Party (why aren't the baked goods allowed?!), or the Cupcakes Party (What about healthy foods?!), it can be on the book you chose to read, or the holiday you want to celebrate. Multiply strong opinions times 26, and try to appease everyone!

What I'm trying to say, Santa is not alone in the line of items that don't happen in every household. How about we all agree to be a little more patient with other people's choices and opinions? Today I will tolerate that Santa will visit the classroom and make 95% of the kids and parents happy, and tomorrow someone else will tolerate the choice that makes me happy. It truly is never-ending. One can pull apart every single day of school like this: kids should get class-wide detentions vs. shouldn't; there should be homework vs. there shouldn't be any homework; the lunch choices not healthy enough, or not varied enough for difficult eaters; this books is too controversial (sometimes I think some parents would be happy to burn half the classics), and this one is not challenging enough; this math project is useless and what happened to rote memorization vs. there is not enough application in math classes, etc. etc. etc.

I'm not sure if I'm getting my message across, but the point is... someone's kid and parent are just about always unhappy with school's choice, and it's nearly impossible to fix that. What is possible is to strive for balance, and that's what I think we should be working on, kwim?

New endeavor coming soon...
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Old 12-19-2009, 01:09 PM
 
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I don't love the idea of a visit from Santa Claus in the school myself. It isn't the hill I would die on IRL in terms of working toward exposure to religious and cultural diversity in public schools. My posts have been directed more to the idea that ANY religious symbolism and ANY religious discussion must be forbidden and ignored in public school.

I appreciate your thoughtful posts and the tone of them. Your point about sponsoring celebrations vs. exploring and learning about them is a good one, although I think there would often be a blurry line between them. I disagree, though, that the answer to the issue of religious diversity is to steer clear of it in the public schools.
I agree - it is not a hill to die on , but it is definitely an area that bothers me on many levels (as if nobody noticed ), perhaps because I was always part of the "minority" and am very sensitive to this topic. I actually felt like I should have apologized for my tone, which is why I try to steer clear of these debates as I tend to get uppity and, at time, irrational, just to stand on principle. At the end of the day, no, I would not choose to keep DD home if Santa visits her public school next year, but I would definitely prefer a "winter" celebration. Same goes for spring and Easter.

Regading "sponsoring" versus "teaching", it is precisely because there is a blurry line between them that I would prefer that it just be left out of the schools. I remember being peeved, at the age of 6, because the Christmas chorus was, of course, mostly Christmas songs with a a few token Hannukah songs included. And given all the differences in beliefs and celebrations between different Christians (Catholic, Baptist, Protestant, to name a few) that "teaching" about religion gets complicated very quickly. There are an equal number of differences among different Buddhists, different Hindus, different Jews, different Muslims - it is not easy to teach about it. And religion is, of course, only one part of diversity. So I would think that teaching diversity would be far more broad to include languages, foods, national traditions, histories, etc. where religion would be incorporated not to teach what others believe or do not believe, but to simply present how we are all different or how we are all similar to each other. I would not be comfortable with more than that in a public school setting.

Apparently doing it rong and ruining it for everyone, but I don't give a crap anymorebanana.gif

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Old 12-19-2009, 01:30 PM
 
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Regading "sponsoring" versus "teaching", it is precisely because there is a blurry line between them that I would prefer that it just be left out of the schools. I remember being peeved, at the age of 6, because the Christmas chorus was, of course, mostly Christmas songs with a a few token Hannukah songs included. And given all the differences in beliefs and celebrations between different Christians (Catholic, Baptist, Protestant, to name a few) that "teaching" about religion gets complicated very quickly. There are an equal number of differences among different Buddhists, different Hindus, different Jews, different Muslims - it is not easy to teach about it. And religion is, of course, only one part of diversity. So I would think that teaching diversity would be far more broad to include languages, foods, national traditions, histories, etc. where religion would be incorporated not to teach what others believe or do not believe, but to simply present how we are all different or how we are all similar to each other. I would not be comfortable with more than that in a public school setting.
See, I think it's often impossible to avoid doing more if you have a diverse student population. Santas on cupcakes, the making of a paper menorah in art class, or singing traditional songs are all fairly easy ways to practice for what I consider really tough issues.

A school has a ban on hats/head gear and weapons. Seems pretty reasonable right? What happens when a Sikh boy shows up with a topknot/turban and a kirpan? Obviously the rules will adapt, but how to explain that to the student population without a religious discussion?

Everyone learns to negotiate the tougher issues by practising with the easier ones.
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Old 12-19-2009, 03:28 PM
 
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I teach pre K for a public district. We do a unit of study on Kwanza, Hannukah and Christmas. We learn about Kwanza and the values, we look at Kinaras and read several books about it. We make latkes and play the deidel game and light a Mennorah and talk about the reclaiming of the temple and how the oil lasted for 8 days and we learn about the Macabees, etc. And we talk about Christmas, make presents for our families, make Christmas tree art projects, candy canes, etc. We decorate with a small tree, that is by the Kinara and the Mennorah. We mention that Baby Jesus was born on Christmas *REALLY hard for me since I don't believe He was born in December, but whatever*, but we don't go in to too much detail about it other than that. We are not allowed to wittness to the kids or to tell them that they must be Christian any more than I would tell them that they must be Jewish, etc. That being said, we do have Santa come to visit. He gives them each a book and they don't have to go in to the room where he is if they don't want to. A lot of little kids are actually scared of Santa, so they all have the option up front if they want to even see him from a distance or not. Every child in my center believes in Santa and all of the kids in my own class are Christian, but not all of the kids in the building are Christian- but they still all do the whole belief in Santa thing. I am not sure if it would change if some did not do the Santa concept in their homes.

Oh and we also do a concert where we sing both Christmas and Hannukah songs. I actually taught the kids an additional Hannukah song because I felt it was too lopsided- more Christmasy types. Now if the kids are asked to sing a Christmas song- like when Mrs. Claus visited- they insist on singing a Hannukah song for her too.

I don't think this is damaging them in the long run. Our center is funded by the public school but actually located in a private school- confusing enough???- so the parents are paying a fee for their kids to go there, if that makes a difference.

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Old 12-19-2009, 05:15 PM
 
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Old 12-20-2009, 01:56 PM
 
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nak

This just came up locally. Santa was removed from visiting during school, but they "clarified the policy" and he's allowed back if the entire class is okay with it.
So if one kid's parents quite sensibly don't approve, then that kid is to blame for the whole class missing out? Ouch.
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Old 12-27-2009, 04:23 PM
 
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Wow. Tough one.

In all honesty, as one of the minorities who should 'keep their traps shut' (as stated by a PP) regarding majority culture celebrations in public schools, I'm more than a little hesitant to voice an opinion here.

But I will anyway.

I'm one of a very, very tiny minority...Orthodox Jews who have their children in a public school (most Orthodox Jews will only send to private religious schools for precisely these kinds of reasons). Because of where we now live, and the needs of my family, a yeshiva is not an option for me. My oldest two children are in a public charter Montessori school, which thankfully in its embrace of diversity, strives to accommodate rather than create division.

Having not grown up Orthodox however, as one of a very few Jewish children in a public school system which was 99.9% Catholic (and all went to the same church), I can personally attest to the feelings of bewilderment, exclusion, loneliness, isolation, and occasionally prejudice that befall minority children in a majority culture during the "Holiday Season." Younger children especially suffer as they are rarely equipped with the cognitive or emotional skills to deal with these kinds of challenges -- and that is true even if their home environment is highly supportive, and very identified with their own 'culture'/religious tradition.

I don't think it's really possible for others to understand this kind of isolation. It's a very difficult concept to explain, and unless a person has experienced it deeply for an extended time, even more difficult to appreciate on a level which would express real empathy. Thus you get comments like 'they should keep their traps shut' or 'suck it up.'

As an individual, I know that my children understand their differences and celebrate and appreciate them -- and that because of their home life and background, are not as threatened by the isolation that comes with being different. Still, this season has presented real challenges for them. I have kept them home at a variety of times for just this reason (and yes, Halloween, Valentine's Day, and St. Patrick's Day are all also celebrations in which we have no interest and my girls will be at home when those festivities take place). They know that Santa and all the other Christmas stuff is for Christians, not for us. They understand Santa isn't real and are under strict orders not to discuss that with friends at school (lest they reveal it, I don't want my kids to be held responsible for being 'spoilers').

If I know Santa is coming to school, my kids will be at home that day. I neither want them taking part, nor being spoilers for others. I am sad I would have to make that decision, but as part of a minority there is a reality that sometimes it's better to keep a low profile and not rock the boat too much. As much as I might like to oppose what I would conceive an inappropriate use of school time for a religious celebration, I won't make my kids a target.

I see no traction in arguing that Santa is a secular symbol. For us he is decidedly Christian, and part of the celebrations of Christians and those who celebrate Christmas. We are neither Christians, nor do we celebrate Christmas, and Santa is not for us. End of story. When Santa is part of the picture, we move out of the picture. I don't want to take anything away from others; nor do I want my kids to feel excluded or isolated any more than they already will just by virtue of the fact they are different. If Santa shows up, my kids stay home.

For what it's worth, Chanukah is not the "Jewish Christmas." Ironically, Chanukah is a holiday that actually celebrates the victory over assimilation and acculturation to a foreign culture. The miracle wasn't just the oil -- it was the preservation of Judaism and the Jewish way of life from a culture that sought to annihilate our religious tradition and identity. It's nice when others teach about Chanukah, but I don't expect or even want it in the public schools -- I feel like it dilutes the real message of the holiday. It's one thing to celebrate that others have different traditions; it's quite another to take pieces of those (dreidel, songs, latkes) and trivialize their significance. That's just my own private rant, though, and not one that would be very popular, I suspect. (And one which, I think, maybe mirrors the objections some Christians have to Santa...those nasty 'fundies' to whom a pp referred).

My kids won't be in public school long; they'll be homeschooled and/or go back to yeshiva when I can figure out a way to make it happen. They belong in a place where they can celebrate their own uniqueness and be immersed in their cultural/religious identity all the time and not always have to be on guard against the isolation that comes with minority status. Maybe that makes me guilty of trying to 'bubble' them but to my way of thinking, it gives them a stronger foundation from which to emerge as their own people when they grow to adulthood and face a lifetime of minority status.

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Old 12-27-2009, 05:40 PM
 
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thank you to the poster above me for finally bringing up Hanukkah not being the Jewish Christmas. Adding Hanukkah decorations to your school Christmas tree does not make it fair for the Jewish children.

I do wonder if any of your children learn about such holidays as Passover, Purim, Sukkot, or Rosh Hashanah in their schools?

Am I wrong that Christmas is the most important Christian hoilday? Hanukkah is not the most important Jewish holiday, and yet the children who learn about it in public school believe that it is the essence of being Jewish.

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Old 12-27-2009, 06:30 PM
 
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Nic, thanks for posting here and further explaining your thoughts. I often have gut feelings but can't explain them well. Reading an explanantion from someone I know helps so much. I hope I have't offended lately as we celebrate our secular Christmas.

You don’t owe them an explanation, just a response.
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Old 12-27-2009, 07:33 PM
 
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I agree that Santa is NOT a religious figure, at all, as a part of today's christmas. Sure, it might be based on st nicholas, but that is not who santa is.
Agreed.

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when I bring in the class snacks to DS's school for the kids to share, it has to be nut free not from a shared facility, so the one kid in DS's class with a nut allergy doesn't feel left out, excluded and different at snack time.
My kids have been in schools that were nut-free and schools that weren't. Really, not nut-free is safer as you can't trust every kid and every parent and every stand-in babysitter to send nut-free snacks/lunches; it is safer to assume anything not brought from home is to be avoided. But I understand going nut-free as it is SO dangerous to kids with severe allergies. A kid whose family is JW will not end up in the hospital if there is a Xmas tree up or Rudolph is sung in class.

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1 child who may DIE as a result of a nut allergy is worlds different from 1 child who may not celebrate christmas and would have an alternate activity during the time santa came.

what about halloween? I'd guess similar stats are associated with Halloween. Should halloween be kept out of schools, to not offend people? I know in our school there are some children who do not celebrate halloween, they are offered alternative activities during any halloween celebrations.
I didn't send my dd3 to the nearest and otherwise best liked preschool solely because they didn't let the kids dress up for Halloween or exchange Valentines. That was a much loved part of my childhood, and I'm not sending my kid to a school that skips that, no matter how good they are otherwise.

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Oh for crying out loud. It's like what, 10 minutes out of a day? That's going to effect them bonding with classmates for the rest of the year? I really don't buy it. It'll suck then it'll be over, most kids have short attention spans and they'll all to be onto the next thing, like how some kid brought a My Little Pony for show and tell or whatever.

So basically, because some kids' parents don't want them to participate, no kids get to have a fun activity. That's so mean spirited. And hardly conducive to positive community relations.

I think, in life, having travelled a lot, that sometimes you need to suck it up for the greater community spirit. I give tolerance to you, you give tolerance to me. This endless pontificating on *my* rights and rigid thinking and the individual above all doesn't help people get along imo

And ask me how I feel about the JW family in DD's class who have taken it upon themselves to express their non-belief by telling their child to tell the kids the tooth fairy and santa aren't real. So fine, they're not real. Couldn't they keep their traps shut? I certainly wouldn't tell my DD that their beliefs are bullshit, but somehow it's okay to do it in the reverse.
Thank you!!! I agree 100%. I am an atheist but you don't find me down at my kids' schools demanding they don't say the Pledge of Allegiance! I said it as a kid, staying silent for "under God". No biggie. Same at Girl Scouts. I am in the minority in this regard and will deal.

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Why should the other 29 children in the class not celebrate the largest of all Holidays in this country because 1 child's parents have chosen to raise him in a different manner?

I don't celebrate Halloween, so I chose to keep my child at home on Firday October 30th. Actually we went camping that weekend so that he would not witness the celebrations that others were having around us. I and the other Christian parents at my son's school (private) could make a stink and have the celebration removed from the calendar, but what would that accomplish?
Thank you! Wow, I am impressed. Sounds like you figured out a workable solution. Your child likely missed almost no direct instruction on a "party" day like Halloween or the last day before Xmas break - and the kids who celebrate were able to. Win-win.

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You know what though, the OVERWHELMINGLY enormous part of the community SHARES these things. What if you or I moved to a different culture, say to a predominately Muslim or Jewish or other 'non' Christian community. Do we pitch a fit because local culture is that women are covered in Muslim communities? Or do we cry and moan that there are not any Christmas decorations to be had in Jerusalem? Do you think that a predominately Jewish community should not publicly celebrate Chanukah or Purim or Rosh Hashana because there are a very small amount of Muslims or Christians in the community?

Honestly, I don't think it's very fair to go from Santa visiting school (completely secular) to morning prayers over the PA.
Yes, this! If Santa originated - a LONG time ago - from Saint Nick, this doesn't mean a thing to Mrs. ******'s third graders! To them, he is Santa. None of those KIDS are hurt/offended in a "they are demeaning my religion" unless their parents make that link for them.

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Unfortunately, for better or worse, St. Nick (that's SAINT Nick), has guilt by association.
Only to adults or kids old enough to reason through it. Little kids are NOT going to make that link...

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I'm pretty sure most of the parents would be very angry that the school had ruined the big secret. They would be upset that their kids no longer believed the guy at the mall was Santa.
Any kid older than about three has noticed that Santa is at the mall AND daddy's work AND on tv AND all over the place - why, mommy? My kids from a young age knew that the guy at the mall wasn't the "real" Santa but a helper as Santa was busy at the North Pole this time of year.

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Our school doesn't do Halloween because of the fundy Christians. It annoys the heck out of me. I really think the kids should get to have fun and classroom parties and all that.

I think adults need to get over their nonsense and just let the kids have fun.

I'm buddhists/pagan and my DH is an atheist. We celebrate Christmas and we *did* Santa when the kids were little. So the idea that Santa is some how a religious symbol is laughable to me.
My kids' schools do Halloween but there are some in our town that don't. I'd be at the PTA and/or school board meeting in a second if our schools thought about pulling Halloween. Halloween and Xmas and Valentines and yes, even Easter are all celebrated as secular by many in the US. Because they may have had religious beginnings or history means nothing to kids now. I agree with Linda - let the kids have fun on holidays!

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I'm utterly bamboozled as to how the fun and imagination of childhood is turned into a politically correct evil.

Maybe it's because I'm from a culture and era of fairies, pixies and sprites. Santa. The tooth fairy.

The magic of childhood.
THANK YOU.

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Approximately 85% of Americans believe in God, but 95% believe in Santa. Really?

If Santa is secular, then maybe he should change his standard "Ho, ho, ho....MERRY CHRISTMAS!" to some other phrase.
I am an atheist and say Merry Xmas this time of year. I celebrate it as a secular holiday. It has no religious ties FOR ME. For me it is family coming and cookie baking and decorating the tree and hanging stockings and finding the perfect gifts for people we love.

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If Santa were part of religion, he'd hang out at churches rather than the mall.
That cracked me up and is a GREAT POINT!!!!
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Old 12-29-2009, 02:38 AM
 
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wow, is this thread STILL going?

thanks to those posters who got what I was saying. It's good to know I am not the only one.

I did want to clarify one thing from my previous post: I might have given the impression that I care more than I actually do about the JWs who don't believe in Xmas/tooth fairy in kid's class. I am actually more amused than anything by it, but a few of the other parents (various versions of lapsed christian) are pissed.

Nikorolaberry, while I appreciate that it can be hard to be a minority at this time of year, I still don't think enforcing rigid securalism is the right way to deal with it when the significant majority wants the cultural festival. Trying to ban deeply held emotional cultural festivals is very hard to do, as many major religions have found out and have ended up either ignoring them or folding them into the religion.
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Old 12-29-2009, 03:34 AM
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Am I wrong that Christmas is the most important Christian hoilday?
Yes, you are wrong.

Easter (the resurrection) is the most important Christian holiday. The Bible says absolutely nothing about celebrating Christ's birth, and several fundamentalist/splinter Christian groups oppose celebrating it because it isn't Biblical.

Christmas is the most commercialized Christian holiday, thanks (in part) to the Coca-Cola company.
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Old 12-29-2009, 03:43 AM
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I am an atheist and say Merry Xmas this time of year. I celebrate it as a secular holiday. It has no religious ties FOR ME.
Same here, on every point.

However, putting my own "spin" on a holiday doesn't negate its religious facets.
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Old 12-29-2009, 10:26 AM
 
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I think there's a vast distance between 'enforcing rigid secularism' and inviting a religious figure into the school. Denying Santa's religious basis is somewhat disingenuous -- he is, after all, a representation of Saint Nicholas as well as something directly associated with the Christian holiday of Christmas.

I also said nothing about banning recognition of widely-held cultural festivals.

I do believe there's quite a bit of room for holiday festivities -- room parties, gift exchanges, even shows/recitals. A passive symbol like a tree is not the same as an active one like Santa, who by his very appearance will necessarily marginalize those who don't participate (along with the message that this is something for 'good girls and boys').

Hey, I'm not the Santa police. Like I said, I'd keep my kids home. But I do also think there's a place for emphasizing the development of a degree of empathy here. You may never understand what it's like to be part of a minority, but perhaps it's worth considering the feelings of small children when instituting a public school policy. Those who celebrate Christmas and Santa will certainly have that at home. No one will miss Santa not coming to school. Why bring the issue into public school at all?!

 "Now bid me run, and I will strive with things impossible." (William Shakespeare -- Julius Caesar)

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Old 12-29-2009, 04:29 PM
 
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I think there's a vast distance between 'enforcing rigid secularism' and inviting a religious figure into the school. Denying Santa's religious basis is somewhat disingenuous -- he is, after all, a representation of Saint Nicholas as well as something directly associated with the Christian holiday of Christmas.

I also said nothing about banning recognition of widely-held cultural festivals.

I do believe there's quite a bit of room for holiday festivities -- room parties, gift exchanges, even shows/recitals. A passive symbol like a tree is not the same as an active one like Santa, who by his very appearance will necessarily marginalize those who don't participate (along with the message that this is something for 'good girls and boys').

Hey, I'm not the Santa police. Like I said, I'd keep my kids home. But I do also think there's a place for emphasizing the development of a degree of empathy here. You may never understand what it's like to be part of a minority, but perhaps it's worth considering the feelings of small children when instituting a public school policy. Those who celebrate Christmas and Santa will certainly have that at home. No one will miss Santa not coming to school. Why bring the issue into public school at all?!
Duh, because it's part of the world around it which is Santarized. Other kids want it. And yes, imo, it is rigid to draw lines around public school as if it's some citadel of perfect secularity. And tree is better than Santa. Come on. Classic hair-splitting rigid and legalistic thinking right there.

I have experienced being part of a minority quite a few times, one time in Israel. Um, yeah. Part of life is learning to accept that nothing is perfect, that things are not always fair, or as black and white as some might like them to be. I really dislike black and white thinking, the harping on stripping every bit of cultural flavour out of the secular society. It's so joyless and petty. And I wonder what people are so afraid of - are they afraid to admit that a large portion of society is still deeply attached to the old festivals? Do they think by stripping all that away the world will somehow be better? I don't agree, I think it is a form of intolerance.
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Old 12-29-2009, 04:47 PM
 
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Duh, because it's part of the world around it which is Santarized. And yes, imo, it is rigid to draw lines around public school as if it's some citadel of perfect secularity. And tree is better than Santa. Come on. Classic hair-splitting rigid and legalistic thinking right there.

I have experienced being part of a minority quite a few times, one time in Israel. I did not expect the society around me to make allowances for me. Part of life is learning to accept that nothing is perfect, that things are not always fair, or as black and white as some might like them to be. That is the truth, imo. And I will stand up for the muddy, grey, imperfect world every time because I ultimately believe it's a more realistic and healthy and tolerant world.
Pardon me? "Classic hair splitting rigid and legalistic thinking"? Care to say right out what you mean there?

I am under no illusions that life is perfect or always fair; and I am quite capable of understanding subtlety. So are my children. We compromise by sending them into this environment, and they are schooled very quickly on these kinds of issues. They grow up with a comprehension of exactly where they stand in this society, for better or (often) for worse, including the kinds of attitudes that instructs them to 'keep their traps shut,' and 'suck it up.' They grow strong because of this, but they also never, ever forget who they are and what their status is.

The key difference between Israel and America (and a lot of other countries and America) is that other nations (including Israel) have a state established religion. Our constitution protects us from state establishment of a religion -- and the public schools are precisely the kind of venue in which a state religion (whatever it is) is propagated. The public schools in this nation *are* supposed to be religiously neutral. Not adamantly secular, necessarily -- but not exhibiting favoritism either.

I believe I made it clear that I have no wish to deprive others of their beliefs or celebrations; I also believe, as I said, there are degrees of acceptability. I'm not in charge of determining them. I make my decisions about my children based on the reality at the time, and basically duck out of the way. But I stand by my point that the subtlety here is precisely in drawing a line between recognizing cultural festivals and inviting religious figures into a religiously neutral (by law) venue.

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Old 12-29-2009, 11:25 PM
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Duh, because it's part of the world around it which is Santarized.
This is just rude. I'm sure, as an Orthodox Jew, she is much more aware of how invasive Santa is to absolutely every single facet of American culture from Thanksgiving through New Year's.

You know, I do celebrate Christmas as a more secular holiday. I have no problem with Santa, per se. But, it is a CHRISTMAS figure. Christmas is a CHRISTIAN holiday. There really isn't a way to say it isn't. I'm sorry. You can try to say it isn't, but it really, really is.

And , it has no part of the public school. Little kids are not able to navigate or negotiate the complicated cultural waters that come with an event like this. It is a hornet's nest that is bound to offend and hurt someone. So, yes, let this one place be a bastion from the cultural implications that are present everywhere. Let the obvious bias toward Christmas stay out of the public schools, where EVERYONE is entitled to a safe education. And, no, I don't believe that parading Santa around the school makes it an emotionally safe place for the little Jewish kid, or the little Muslim kid, the little Buddhist kid, etc., etc. I'm sure, absolutely positive, that those that treasure the memories of Santa will expose those children to the same, magical moments. This isn't the school's job or place. If we were talking about a unit in social studies that studied different religions around the world, I would have no problem with that. Having Santa come to the class and "Ho, Ho, Ho," everyone is a duck of a different feather, though.

And, for the record, I am not saying that there should be no celebrations in school. There are many ways that kids and teachers can celebrate together in school that do not include religious holidays that may or may not be celebrated by everyone involved.

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Old 12-30-2009, 12:27 AM
 
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And I wonder what people are so afraid of - are they afraid to admit that a large portion of society is still deeply attached to the old festivals? Do they think by stripping all that away the world will somehow be better? I don't agree, I think it is a form of intolerance.
This is what people are afraid of:
Quote:
she is feeling very much like an outsider. I feel so sad for her- the kids tease her about [her religion!]- they found out because the teacher was talking about something and my daughter raised her hand to tell the teacher she doesn't "do this" but rather "this" and he talked about the religion with the class (he is very nice and was perhaps trying to educate the kids)-but it gave them fuel for their teasing.
from this thread http://www.mothering.com/discussions....php?t=1011355. This teasing all came about b/c the school decided to make christmas part of the school day in a big huge way.

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Old 12-30-2009, 01:51 AM
 
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My DD's pre-K class was visited by Santa. Apparently he comes with a police officer to visit. (Wonder what the children think of that? LOL) We are Christian and not anti-Santa so obviously it didn't bother me -- but I can see the offensiveness of it to others. I

This is not a excuse just a thought ... We happen to live in an area that is largely Christian (Dutch Reformed). I can't find any hard stats but I would say in the 90 percent if not more. I have been to PTO events where a prayer was said prior to its beginning. I imagine no one gave it a second thought about Santa visiting.

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Old 12-30-2009, 03:01 AM
 
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I guess, even though I am Christian myself, and celebrate Christmas, complete with Santa, that I just don't see what educational benefit celebrating Christmas at public school serves. I'm also not referring to learning about different religions/cultural celebrations in an educational way either, but things like having Santa visit, or singing Christmas carols.
As many have pointed out, living in the US, one can hardly escape the dominant culture everywhere one goes, so it's not like if Santa doesn't visit the classroom, a Christian child has to miss out. The objections all seem to me to be variations on "I'm in the dominant culture and I want MY holidays celebrated."
Ignoring the real feelings of folks who are not part of the dominant culture seems beyond thoughtless, for something that has no apparent educational benefit.
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Old 12-30-2009, 01:50 PM
 
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I'm pleasantly surprised by how non-Christian-normative my kids' school seems to me. They have Winter Break, the winter concert did not include religious songs, and Santa did not visit. What makes this especially interesting to me is that it's an International Baccalaurate School, so each classroom is focused on a particular country throughout the year, and the children all take Spanish. IMO they get a much better sense of the world as it is, richly multicultural, by setting aside the assumption that "everybody" celebrates Christmas. (Contrast my public school, when I was a child: we got New Testaments. For free! Everyone take one! )

Even in the whitebread Midwest where I now live, there are children in my kids' classrooms whose families immigrated from (off the top of my head) at least half a dozen countries. Not a generation ago, but a few years ago. I *love* that there are a variety of native languages spoken and a variety of religions practiced (as well, I'm sure, as many athiest families.)

My kids would get a much narrower and less accurate understanding of the world we all live in if they were taught that Christianity is the universal norm. In addition, their Jewish and Buddhist and Hindu (again, off the top of my head - I'm sure there are more) classmates would be marginalized.

Probably non-Christian families see more default assumptions about Christianity in the school than I do (I should ask around!) But I am confident that all religious traditions are welcomed and affirmed, and I think if a parent had a problem with the religious or cultural assumptions made at school he or she would be taken seriously.

Finally, as a trained theologian - why would I want the public schools teaching my kids religion? Trust me, I'll do a much better job at home.

Can't give up actin' tough, it's all that I'm made of. Can't scrape together quite enough to ride the bus to the outskirts of the fact that I need love. ~ Neko Case

 
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