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Today's word on journalism

Monday, January 29, 2007

Words as weapons:

"When he had a pen in his hand it was like giving a kid a machine gun."

--Peter Hall, theater director, on "Angry Young Man" playwright John Osborne (1929-1994)

Winter programs in schools should be culturally sensitive

By Elizabeth Devlin

December 15, 2006 | Courts and school districts have been battling in the war of Christmas and religion in schools for years. Most public school districts through out the country refer to the school break between the first and second semester of school as the Winter Break, not Christmas Vacation to stay more politically correct.

A local family discussed this issue online on their family website. Curtis Devlin wrote, "Not everyone is Christian, and not every Christian celebrates Christmas. What's wrong with making sure to include everyone? I don't understand why something is bad because it's politically correct. You can have a winter program that includes Christmas themes, without turning it into a religious function."

Religion and education is a touchy subject in the United States and especially in our schools. The National Parent Teacher Association, in a pamphlet created to help parents understand separation of religion and schools, stated, "religious holidays offer opportunities to teach religion in elementary and secondary schools. Teaching about religious holidays, which is permissible, is different from celebrating religious holidays, which is not."

Because of how our country and the commercial industry feeds off of the seasonal holidays, it would be unrealistic to ban winter season from schools. The media and advertising is unavoidable and can be seen and talked about in our schools from those who celebrate Christmas. Some parents argue that this war with Christmas in the schools are making the children grow up too fast. So far, the Supreme Court has not made any definite ruling on religious holidays in schools but more and more school districts are steering away from Christmas programs and instead replacing Christmas with the term winter holiday or winter programs. A school in Texas has gone as far as not allowing red and green decorations in the school during the month of December.

Tashina Meaker is a student at Utah State University studying special education and also is a student teacher in Logan. She states, "The heart of Christmas is Christ. It is not appropriate for school but it is a holiday as well as the other winter religious holidays, that express love, kindess, and giving. There shouldn't be anything wrong with teaching these principles especially at this time of the year. Taking the holiday celebrations is taking away traditions of our country." Christmas isn't just a religious holiday, it is American tradition, Meaker said.

Brent Olsson, an attorney allied with a foundation that supports religious liberties, stated, "it is a myth that the so-called 'separation of church and state' requires officials to suppress the celebration of Christmas in public schools."

Joel Allred, principal at a local elementary school, says banning should not be the issue. Meaker and Allred both commented that teachers should be culturely sensitive to their classroom and introduce other religious holidays as well as Christmas. This Web site gives information and even recipes of other religious holidays that can be introduced in the classroom. The solution is educate the children, not ban, Meaker and Allred said.


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