DALLAS, Texas — On October 28, the North Education Center in San Antonio sent pre-kindergarten students home with a letter from the school’s director about a new school policy about Halloween. North is one of four campuses that is part of the city run and sales tax funded Pre-K for SA. It is former mayor turned HUD Czar Julian Castro’s signature early education program.
“With the arrival of Fall, as we drive throughout San Antonio, we see pumpkin patches and other signs that cooler temperatures are not far away. Fall also brings to light different celebrations that bring families together through their customs and beliefs,” the letter opened, pointing out “social, financial, andcultural differences” among its student population during the celebratory season.
North Education Center at Pre-K 4 SA wanted parents and guardians to know it was committed “to respecting the beliefs of every family” and the best way to do that was to cancel Halloween.
The letter was written by the center’s director Sandy Weser. She indicated that the decision to dump the annual dress up day was because of the frightening or confusing nature of Halloween, explaining how youngsters could not distinguish fantasy from reality “well into their elementary school years.”
However, there were other reasons to unload Halloween, according to Weser’s letter. It said that Pre-K 4 SA was established “to dramatically and sustainably raise the achievement for the children of San Antonio through a quality pre-K education” with guidelines that did not include the teaching of celebrations and holidays, as they recognize that these concepts are different for each individual family and respect for diversity is given greatimportance.”
That passage was cryptic and left the door wide open to wonder if Halloween was so sensitive, what might next be removed from the calendar. Thanksgiving?
Not a far-fetched thought. It has happened elsewhere. Seattle schools swapped out Columbus Day for Indigenous Peoples Day. In California, cultural sensitivity means students only ever say “Happy Holidays.”
It is also in California where a high school prohibited American students in an American public school from wearing American flag T-shirts on Cincode Mayo, which is a Mexican historical holiday that celebrates the country’s victory in the Battle of Puebla over Napoleon III in 1862.
USA Today called Cinco de Mayo “more of an American holiday than a Mexican one.”
Breitbart Texas attempted to contact Weser, who did not take any of our calls. We finally spoke to Pre-K for SA CEO Kathy Bruck, whosaid that all Pre-K for SA centers — North, East, South and West — discussed with their families whether or not to celebrate Halloween. Only North rejected Halloween.
“We have a lot of families that this is an uncomfortable day for them. A number of people feel for religious reasons that Halloween doesn’t have good connotations,” she told Breitbart Texas.
Bruck declared that canning Halloween had absolutely nothing to do with El Dia de los Muertos, a similar Halloween-like dress up day celebrated in Mexico and Latin America, which honors the dead. She pointed out that anybody could be troubled by Halloween – like Jehovah’s Witnesses or Muslims, but then said there were no Jehovah’s Witnesses enrolled at North.
She said North would have a storyteller at the campus instead, although the Weser letter only mentioned that those children who wanted to celebrate Halloween were welcome “to share a photograph of their costume on that day” during “show and tell.”
Bruck promised the North pre-k kids would “do costumes at a later time” unassociated with Halloween. She emphasized that the children dress up all the time in the drama area.
She told Breitbart Texas that she thought “we’re making a big deal” over celebrating Halloween and expressed her concerns over the First Amendment rights of those students who have issues with Halloween.
Breitbart Texas asked about the First Amendment rights of the greater population of students who partake in the annual tradition. Bruck did not respond.
Instead, she stressed, “We honor everybody’s traditions — Christian, Muslim, Hindu, and Asian.” She told Breitbart Texas that they even celebrate Kwanza. However, she did not mention Jewish traditions and was not even sure if any Jewish students were enrolled in the program.
Although she stated there were no Jehovah’s Witnesses enrolled at North, she continued to express concerns over their sensitivity to Halloween.
Bruck claimed that Pre-K 4 SA would share Jewish traditions with students. She also noted that Thanksgiving was not in danger of being removed from any of the Pre-K 4 SA education centers.
She said, “We are a public institution and we will say the Pledge of Allegiance,” but pointed out that “students don’t have to salute the flag.”
Breitbart Texas inquired as to whom might not be doing so and why not. Again, she referenced those children of Jehovah’s Witnesses who are not enrolled in Pre-K 4 SA’s North Education Center as her example.
Halloween may be a silly little American kid’s cultural tradition that really is not a big deal but its deliberate absence is. The custom celebrates creative expressions of nothing more than costumes and candies in its modern practice.
Bruck emphasized that the candy portion had nothing to do with North’s decision to scrap Halloween on campus, although she voiced the same school policy about candy included in Weser’s letter.
“Pre-K for SA is committed to addressing Pre-K for SA’s commitment to promoting healthy lifestyles in young children in response to the obesity epidemic in the United States” the letter stated.
Bruck explained that both parents and children are schooled in nutritional rigor. Healthy meals are a part of their curriculum and “promoting candy and other sweets goes against the program’s value of nutrition,” as the letter also stated.
Four-year-olds at all four Pre-K 4 SA campuses are enrolled in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). It is more food from the Federal lunch lady and like the National School Lunch Program, CACFP is a part of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).
On the Pre-K for SA website sits a CACFP non-discrimination disclaimer that reads: “The US Department of Agriculture prohibits discrimination against its customers, employees, and applicant for employment on the bases of race, color, national origin, age, disability, sex, gender identity, religion, reprisal, and where applicable, political beliefs, marital status, familial or parental status, sexual orientation, or all or part of an individual’s income is derived from any public assistance program, or protected genetic information in employment or in any program or activity conducted or funded by the Department.”
If it is not enough that the federal law Plyler v. Doe prohibits school enrollment discrimination, and the “Dear Colleague” letter issued jointly by the US Department of Education and the US Department of Justice in 2011 and reissued in 2014, which extended the civil rights privileges of the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education, the 1964 Civil Rights Act and Titles IV and VI to non-American citizens, the USDA is now protecting the civil rights of four-year-olds nationwide to eat lunch on federal tax dollars.
But little ole’ Halloween was canceled.
The letter from Pre-K 4 SA North Education Center follows this article in its entirety.
Follow Merrill Hope on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom.