Thursday, November 22, 2007

Planning Ahead is Cultural Racism?

A few bloggers have been posting on the story out of Washington State on the Seattle School District's notice to parents saying Thanksgiving should be a time of mourning for its Native American students. Fox News has the story:

Seattle public schools want a side of political correctness served on your Thanksgiving table.

Washington state's largest school district sent letters to teachers and other employees suggesting Thanksgiving should be "a time of mourning" for its Native American students.

The memo, from Caprice Hollins, the district's director of Equity, Race & Learning Support, included an attachment to a paper titled "Deconstructing the Myths of 'The First Thanksgiving.'"

It includes 11 "myths" disputing everything from what was served at the first Thanksgiving (no mashed potatoes or cranberries) and who provided the food to the nature of the Pilgrims themselves: Myth No. 3 calls the colonists "rigid fundamentalists" who came to the New World "fully intending to take the land away from its native inhabitants."

Click here to read the "myths."

But what got the Internet abuzz was Myth No. 11: "Thanksgiving is a happy time." It was followed by "Fact: For many Indian people, 'Thanksgiving' is a time of mourning ... a bitter reminder of 500 years of betrayal returned for friendship."

What's the kicker is the conclusion of the article:
Seattle Public Schools has been in the news before, not always for the performance of its students.

The U.S. Department of Education investigated in April after the district spent part of a federal Smaller Learning Communities grant to send 20 students to the "Eighth Annual White Privilege Conference."

After complaints last year, the district removed from its Web site a definition of racism that claimed planning ahead and individualism were examples of cultural racism.
On this holiday I'm thankful my children attend a good school, in a district that so far seems to represent traditional values and institutions in its curriculum.

My youngest son, who's in kindergarten, has been working on little picture stories, like "If I Were at the First Thanksgiving..." His teacher also had the kids create handprint Thanksgiving cards: A small child's handprint creates a turkey image: the thumbprint is the long neck (painted with eyes and turkey neck), and the fingers represent the plume of feathers (painted in different colors), and below the palm, the legs are added at the bottom. The card's inscription reads thus:

This isn't just a turkey as anyone can see. I made it with my hand which is part of me. It comes of love especially to say, "I hope you have a very Happy Thanksgiving Day!"
My son also came home with with one of those little Pilgrim hats, made from construction paper. These are the things I love about the school-age years. It's not so controversial, either.

Here's to planning ahead! Have a great day!