Oct 19, 2011Print This Post
A Massachusetts elementary school has declared Thanksgiving, Halloween and Columbus Day as “insensitive” holidays. The principal at Kennedy School in Somerville sent a controversial letter to teachers ordering them to be careful about how they mark the celebrations — especially Thanksgiving.
“When we were young we might have been able to claim ignorance of the atrocities that Christopher Columbus committed against the indigenous peoples,” wrote Kennedy School Principal Anne Foley wrote in a letter obtained by Fox News & Commentary. “We can no longer do so. For many of us and our students celebrating this particular person is an insult and a slight to the people he annihilated.”
Principal Foley was especially concerned about Thanksgiving, the time Americans gather to thank God for blessing our nation.
“On the same lines, we need to be careful around the Thanksgiving Day time as well,” she wrote.
Tony Pierantozzi, the superintendent of Somerville Public Schools, sent me a written statement, affirming his support of the principal’s email.
“The email was intended to spark healthy faculty discussion about the teaching of Christopher Columbus and the European colonists, which it did,” Pierantozzi wrote. “A brief internal message intended simply to generate adult discourse became a front page news item.”
“Lost in the 30 second sound bites is the concept that celebration is very different than education,” he said, explaining why holidays might be “offensive.”
“When we teach and learn about history, we do so with the knowledge that history is complex and a full story takes time to study and learn,” he said.
Pierantozzi said “at no time did anyone representing the Somerville Public Schools state that holidays or celebrations would be reduced, chagned or curtailed.”
But his email does not explain exactly how teachers will tell the Thanksgiving story.
The controversy has even hit Washington, D.C.
U.S. Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) tweeted his displeasure, writing: “Let’s not take political correctness to the extreme.”
Fallout from the email was so massive that the school system sent a robo-call to parents from Principal Foley, according to the Somerville News.
“If this message had been intended for a broader audience, I would have chosen less inflammatory words and provided more of a context for the message,” said Foley’s robo-call. “I apologize if my words offended anyone, that was not my intent.”
Mayor Joseph Curtatone told the Somerville News that he disagreed with Foley’s use of the words “atrocities” and “annihilated.”
“I didn’t agree with the words she used. But as the principal, she has a right to say it,” the mayor told the newspaper.