Mass Elementary School Principal Warns Teachers About Celebrating Halloween, Thanksgiving and Columbus Day

One principal is bringing reform to Massachusetts schools. Well, at least in the way they celebrate holidays. NECN reports on Principal Ann Foley’s stand against celebrating Halloween, Columbus Day and Thanksgiving at John F. Kennedy Elementary School in Somerville, Massachusetts:

The Boston Herald reports that the Foley controversy emerged after an email she sent to teachers was revealed, outlining the principal’s opposition to some of America’s most cherished holidays:

“’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. ‘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. On the same lines, we need to be careful around the Thanksgiving Day time as well.’”

This section from the scathing email comes off of Foley’s ban on allowing children to come to school in costumes on Halloween. NECN reports that Foley’s critical comments on holidays beloved by many, has created a chatter among parents and community members:

“Many parents and grandparents were outraged. Parent Lisa Eicks said, ‘If you don’t want to celebrate it then don’t celebrate it, but I don’t think it’s right for the kids that do celebrate it to suffer.’

Grandparent Mary Files said, ;This is America and I think people like her stir up all these prejudices.’

Others were a little more understanding. Grandparent Jeanne Aiello said, “Some things are like her prerogative, she’s the boss and if she feels that that’s being insensitive to other children you have to support that.”

Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone was  supportive of Foley, telling the Herald “She raises a fair point. History is messy.” School Superintendent Tony Pierantozzi said her “intention is to be very, very sensitive to all of the many, many cultures” of Somerville.

Foley would not elaborate on her “atrocities” comment, but told the Herald ““When I grew up, I was taught from a very European perspective of history and it was both embarrassing and enlightening to me when I learned other perspectives.”


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