I was really bummed to read, not only as a parent, but as a teacher, that more and more schools are becoming too politically correct when it comes to certain activities happening in the schools. Below is a letter written by a friend and resident of Springfield where the battle is brewing. Please take a moment to read it. If it can happen there, it can happen in Bridgewater too. At what point do we continue to allow our kids to have not only a meaningful educational expreience in school, but allow them to have a meaningful and fun experience in school too?
When I chose to move to Springfield and raise my children here, one of my major deciding factors was the quality of its public school system. Over the last few years I have not been disappointed with my choice. In fact, ever since my eldest daughter began attending Walton School, I have had nothing but praise and admiration for our schools and the district. However, over the past few years many parents, including myself, have noticed an unhealthy shift from moderation, towards extreme political correctness and inflexibility by the leaders in our schools.
First, when the superintendent and/or principals determined that there should be no sweets in our schools, I, like many others, felt it was bit excessive, yet I refrained from commenting. But, I can no longer remain silent. Completely discarding sweets from the school environment does not allow our children to make active decisions in choosing a healthy lifestyle over non-healthy one. Rather, it discourages them to make choices. We, as a community, should be teaching our children that there are choices to be made in life. By “hiding” a lesser choice, as our school district mandates, we demonstrate to our children that we prefer to conceal the choices offered in our world and pretend the lesser choice does not even exist. How is this teaching?
If this draconian policy wasn’t enough, I was further dismayed when I learned the policy forbade the celebration of a "treat" even on a child’s birthday. “Birthday boys and girls will be given a pencil?” Really? Yes, I recognize there is an obesity epidemic; however, children do not become obese because they have a cupcake or two a month at a festivity. It’s about choices and moderation. I do not stand alone when I state this policy is excessive as many parents in the district agree. Why is it that many other school districts have been able to formulate much more reasonable policies regarding nutrition? For example, in neighboring Mountainside, parents of children celebrating birthdays in any given month come to the school on one mutually agreeable day. The parents may bring a snack in consisting of a combination of healthy and non-healthy treats. This type of "celebration" once a month clearly does not cause obesity. This is a very healthy way to model eating habits. Any nutritionist will agree that healthy eating should occur 90 percent of the time with a treat 10 percent of the time. Complete deprivation of treats does not, and will not, eliminate obesity and does not exemplify a healthy lifestyle. In fact, studies have shown that complete deprivation of any one item causes increased obsession, not disinterest. Seriously, does the occasional cupcake make our children obese? Has the administration gone too far? Perhaps district personnel need to be reminded that sweets do exist in our world.
When Halloween festivities at school were brought to an end, I refrained again, this despite the extreme disappointment of many in our community. Other school districts have made very reasonable decisions to have children enjoy a Halloween activity in the last hour or so of the school day. Children should be permitted to bring their costumes to school and enjoy this event with their classmates. I suspect that many would agree the opportunity for social interaction on Halloween amongst peers is not harmful and actually can be a constructive social experience. Perhaps our board needs to be reminded that “real life” includes occasional celebrations do (and gasp! with sweets too!). I am certain most in our community enjoys a holiday party, or gathering with family, friends and co-workers. Why must we deny our children of the same? Has the administration gone too far?
Yet, it does not end there. Now there is another example that the administration has exceeded its boundaries. I learned recently of the newest policy which forbids parents to provide a collective gift to the teacher at holiday time. I ask, what is the reasoning behind this policy? Is it that it leads to favoritism? Isn't this the reason why a "collective" gift is presented to the teacher with no indication of who contributed in the first place? Letters and drawings by the students as tokens of appreciation are being encouraged. Teachers may accept individual gifts from students and their families? Really? This policy has a greater propensity towards favoritism than a collective gift! To add to the ridiculousness, this policy is not districtwide.
The job educating our children is hard enough, but their responsibilities do not end there. Our children deserve a community which fosters a desire to learn, and encourages appropriate social behavior and experiences.
Considering their responsibilities, teachers are not adequately compensated. Many teachers take money from their own pocket to provide a certain type of environment for their students. It’s about time the administration focuses on its own responsibilities rather than attempting to dominate our community with their unreasonable positions.
My views are echoed by many of the educated adults in our community. I ask again, has the administration gone too far? The answer is a resounding “yes.” This state of affairs is disheartening, and I maintain that I am not proud of our school district. Changes need to be made.
Laura Limone, Springfield Parent