Halloween Costumes Banned

Buckman Arts Elementary School in Portland, Oregon has banned Halloween costumes. Here is the first of three related announcements in our principal’s newsletter…

For many reasons, the celebration of Halloween at school can lead to student exclusion. There are social, financial and cultural differences among our families that we must respect. The spirit of equity has lead most PPS (Portland Public Schools) schools, including most elementary schools, to deemphasize the celebration of Halloween at school.

Apparently it was discussed with the staff and members of the equity team (I’ve never heard of this team – who are its members? how were they chosen? what is their function?) as well as many parents and local principals, and these select few concluded that it’s better to encourage more inclusive celebrations. Hmm. See, last year when Halloween got canceled we were told it was because it conflicted with Grandparents/Special Friends Day. Rather than lead my family into its first act of civil disobedience I yielded to the administration as to avoid discord with guests on campus.

This year some friends and I attempted to bring back Halloween costumes. We petitioned for friendly, low-maintenance costumes without masks or weapons. No offense, but the current incarnation of Halloween is primarily celebrated as a secular holiday. It’s more about candy than anything else. But we weren’t petitioning for candy. We weren’t even petitioning for parties. We only want the children at our arts school to be able to express themselves with costumes if they choose to do so. Had the administration said costumes were distracting, the teachers hated it, it was too much work, I probably wouldn’t be making a federal case out of this. But the stream of utter nonsense they’ve laid before us is impossible to ignore. If Halloween is celebrated there are up to six children (out of nearly five hundred) who’s families will not allow them to attend school that day. We’re told these families don’t recognize this as a secular holiday nor does the school district. So let’s run with that, shall we? Halloween: a sacred holiday.

If certain students wore religious head-coverings to school they wouldn’t be sent home. If other students wore black smudges on their foreheads a certain Wednesday of the year they wouldn’t be sent home either. The school system is claiming that this is a non-secular, non-inclusive holiday. Subsequently, Halloween goes the way of Christmas, with Valentine’s Day close behind (oy, the stress of writing all those obnoxiously tiny Valentine’s Day cards – I hate it, but I wouldn’t do away with it when so many people enjoy the ritual).

So now a large group of us must make a choice: stand by our beliefs, letting our children wear costumes to school and risk being sent home or skip school all together and head to the pumpkin patch thus lowering our school’s very important attendance record? To further complicate the matter, a local news station wants to hear our story. Talk or quietly let it go? All this over America’s most creative holiday as it pertains to, of all places, an art school. This country’s obsession with the politically correct is really getting out of hand.


131 responses to “Halloween Costumes Banned

  1. Unfortunately, it sounds like yet more children are losing their childhood to political correctness. Gone are the days of self expression? Doesn’t this mean the school disctrict is attempting to teach these children that they should NOT accept diversity, they should NOT be willing to share the world and to simply “shut up and show up” as to not offend anyone? We have to prepare our children for the real world not expect the world to be prepared for them! Out here, beyond the threshold of our homes and schools, are a lot of different people, religions, sexualities, economic status’, etc, it is HERE that they will be asked: Were you taught to question authority or expected to go through your day like a drone? and So, what were your childhood school days like? Do you really want the answer to be “I’m not sure, we weren’t allowed to do anything creative at our art school”, “Boring, we were taught to stifle ourselves as to fit into the coorporate world as adults” or even worse “I don’t remember!” My vote: dress the kids up, take them to a park and host your own Halloween parade! I’m sure the news station would love to cover the story! Keep us posted!

  2. This seems to be a trend that leaves most people sad and I can’t believe more people aren’t fighting to keep dress up at schools. Have we become this apathetic, half of us voting, leaving everything to the powers that be to decide for us how to live and what is culturally appropriate? I can’t think of any other holiday that embraces creativity like Halloween. Most American holidays are about shopping and Hallmark cards. We have so few American cultural traditions are we going to let this one slide away? Many kids don’t trick or treat and if they do, they go to the mall, where the emphasis becomes candy and shopping, so no school dress up means no Halloween. Our school is a magnet school so kids are geographically far away so there is no other chance to see their friends in costume. We have to travel to trick or treat as many homes on our block have given up on Halloween. We come home to full bowls of candy left on our porch and I live across from the school! I am fighting for my kids and for a cultural moment that I want to pass on to them. Fairy princesses, bumble bees and astronaut costumes offend you? What is going to offend you next? Yoga, dance, rainbows, human representation in art? What else can I remove from my child’s life to make you more comfortable?

  3. Grandparent of children who attend Buckman

    America has changed. The schools just seem to be pre-military camps
    now for children. What the majority of parents want, well, that simply
    counts for nothing. How the threats of a handful of parents to keep
    their children home on Halloween is enough to ban a longstanding
    tradition is to spit in the face of our common cultural bonds. I pay alot
    of property taxes to help support the schools, and so do others, yet,
    their voices are drowned out.

  4. Send ’em to school in a costume and refuse to come pick them up if they call you to do so. I’ll talk to the Zippers, another Buckma family and see what they’re up to.

  5. I saw this on the news tonight, and I have to say, I have no idea what the principal’s statement means. I have never heard anyone, anywhere, suggest that Halloween is exclusionary, or somehow offensive to people of other socioeconomic classes or cultures — and I grew up in Los Angeles! In terms of cultural, ethnic, racial, and financial diversity, Los Angeles makes Portland look like Iceland.

    Is this “spirit of equity” thing a code for something else that I’m just not getting? Are there any evangelical Christians at Buckman who object to the glorification of witchcraft? Or is the issue with children of Russian emigrants, as suggested on the Mercury site? SE Portland is absolutely the LEAST diverse place I’ve ever lived, so this whole “other culture” thing leaves me honestly perplexed.

  6. R, many of us are perplexed by this situation. I lived in Los Angeles for a long time and still yearn for the blended culture of my old hood. There was something exciting (and truly American) about hearing a dozen different languages on any given day.

    My favorite comment on the Mercury’s Blogtown (linked above) today comes from ScrumYummy: “..we should be celebrating each other’s cultures and teaching each other about them.”

    Hear, hear!

  7. I don’t get how by removing holidays like Halloween, aren’t you just trading one exclusion for another. In a world of political correctness, shouldn’t we be teaching our kids tolerance and acceptance of different cultures and ideas. By removing things like Christmas and Halloween aren’t we just adding hate and anger. Shouldn’t the parents and teachers be educating the kids that this is something that some people celebrate, and you don’t to celebrate it, but you should learn to accept that some do, likewise the kids who do celebrate it should be taught to accept those who don’t.

    It seems unfair to remove something just because you’re uncomfortable with it. We’re told all the time to celebrate our differences, and what, we do this by removing them? Sounds like this is just an evolved version of bigotry.

  8. You have to realize that the new bent in PPS is “equity,” equity training for teachers, everyone is the same and no one can stand out more than any other, which is odd when you have TAG programs and a lot of effort going to kids who are underachievers. Next, will be Thanksgiving since Christmas is already “Holiday Season.” It will continue and parents need to start taking back their schools and look into district policies which tend to change with the wind or latest fad in education. If the principal won’t budge keep going higher up and continue to make waves in the media, they hate that. I would agree that by hiding what we as a people celebrate we dumb down our schools, curriculum and our communities. The district is big on diversity, but here is a very good teaching moment that gets put aside because it isn’t politically correct. The History Channel shows the History of Halloween and one can get it online; it is an excellent hour of history related to this special day for kids and adults. Another good teaching moment and activity lost in the depths of PPS and its’ penchant for political correctness.

  9. All these responses are from people who DO celebrate Halloween; none from people who don’t. Halloween costumes today range from little kids in “scary” witch hats to middle schoolers got up like hookers and zombies. Very little creativity is involved. probably 95% of the costumes are pre-fab, mass-market junk that will be thrown away after one wearing. Aside from any religious connotations, which most children aren’t even aware of, the holiday really is all about teaching kids to go out in the dark and ask strangers for unhealthy food. The people who profit are the mega-corporations who sell cheap, sleazy costumes, and the food giants who sell overpriced, non-nutritive crap. Sounds like part of the “equity” is about economics too. When the Department of Education says that only about an hour of each school day is spent in actual instruction, surely there are more productive ways for kids to spend their time than dressing up in pointless costumes.

    • Yes, there are plenty of educational activities that follow all holidays, books, art projects, story writing, poetry, math and the list goes on…Buckman is an arts school and I am sure they have a bit more creativity than the average school and the costumes aren’t all the store bought kind. It looks like you are on the usual bent of corporations and the world doing us all wrong with their greed….we do have choices and the “equity,” issues are far deeper than you seem to understand.
      If you don’t celebrate Halloween then you shouldn’t have an issue with those who do, you can just turn your lights out when those greedy little corporate backed kids hit the porch.

    • I get some of the reasons why people wouldn’t want to celebrate this holiday or others, but why make it so others can’t just because you don’t agree with it? How is that fair? And pointless things are subjective. I could say recess is pointless. They can play when they get home, school is for learning. Or PE, music, art. But I wouldn’t stop the schools from being able to do these things. At most I would ask for alternatives for my kid, and explain to my kid my views on how I don’t agree with Art, but many find it important and that’s okay!

      Obviously I’m making a point, I believe in art, PE, music, and recess. But views on what are pointless are subjective. I believe everyone should be able to express themselves, as long as it doesn’t cause physical harm, and for kids, special age appropriate costumes. I don’t see why we can’t all just get along. And not all of us are raised to see Halloween as you portray it. So maybe its best not to just stereotype everyone.

  10. Shannon– would like to visit with you about this halloween deal– tgordon@kgw.com thanks!

  11. Your kiddos still get to dress up and trick or treat in the neighborhood. Let it go. Breathe. Choose your battles. With all the issues we have with PPS maybe direct your energy to something more important (like the crumbling infrastructure, become a member of the PTA, volunteer in the library, teach a lesson in the class on Day of the Dead, etc.).

  12. It truly is sad that this has become such a hot button issue…I agree with Norman Bone…LET IT GO. This really isn’t a big deal…Buckman has a wide variety of dress up days throughout the school year – spirit days, pajama days, silly attire days, crazy hair days…There must be something else going on with these parents to cause such a stir over something that is easily substituted with other creative and imaginative activities…REALLY??? Is it that big an issue or is there something missing from a parents life that they have to push this for their children.

    • It is a big issue under the new “equity,” mentality at PPS and it is deeper than just Halloween costumes; check with high schools where advanced classes were dropped and now kids have an extra period void of academic classes. It might seem little and trivial, but this district is pushing hard against creativity and advanced kids so everyone will be the same. It is a big difference from what is equitable and what is equal access. These students will feel that all the way through the system unless parents and the community get some say in what is best for their kids in their community.
      I really doubt it was just this principal making a rule……

    • Thanks for your post, Martha. It’s perfectly fair to tell me to let it go (caps not withstanding, which I read as yelling). As Norman Bone points out, I did ask so I do appreciate the feedback. Two of the large issues for me are the question of homogenization (our obsession with PC) and that the fact that everyone deserves to have a voice at our school. There have been several instances of school decisions being made that I didn’t support and I keep being told it was agreed upon by all involved.

      The Mercury incorrectly labeled me as angry. Not true, I simply want to be heard. I don’t harbor ill will or harsh feelings against those who don’t believe in Halloween (it seems as though they’re being made the scape goats here). I do however wish that we, as a people, would learn to communicate in a positive manner and refrain from judging one another. The Halloween thing is important to me. It deals with a tradition I embrace and places emphasis (as I celebrate it) on creativity and self-expression. It’s not my only issue. I lobby for every school Measure/Bond that comes along, I donate as money money as I can, I volunteer. It’s fine if you choose to tackle other issues. I value all efforts to better our school. But I respectfully ask that you don’t diminish my cause simply because it’s not important to you.

    • Not anymore. Pajama day that was supposed to happen on Halloween has been cancelled. Also, per the principal, there will be a “School Resource Officer” at Buckman to deal with kids who come dressed up. šŸ˜¦

  13. Though I’ve never been there, everything I’ve ever heard about Portland is about how liberal and open-minded of a city it is. The excuse of social differences is weak. Financial is lame, b/c a good costume doesn’t have to be expensive. Cultural seems insincere in an area that is supposed to be open-minded. This is very surprising behavior from such a liberal town.

    JJ ā€“ The Dude
    Twitter: @DudeOfTheHouse

  14. Many parents who care about this issue are involved in the schools in other ways. This doesn’t have to be important to you and you certainly do not have to participate at all, I respect your right. Please respect my right to voice a different perspective. We are a democracy after all!

    • You have every right to voice your opinion, but this is now hurting the school and the people in the school. You cannot begin to understand what this is doing to those that have to go to Buckman and those that have to work there…

  15. @ Martha72: “LET IT GO”? I’m wondering if that statement and the fact that you along with Norman Bone are trying to trivialize the issue means everyone should just….? Listen to you, because you “said so”?? This is part of what I’m talking about, teach the kids to speak up, regardless of how “small” the issue may be….what you’re suggesting is that parents standby and watch childhood traditions swirl down the drain. Just my opinion šŸ™‚

    • You live in Boston, how can you make a comment on this topic simply from what you have read/heard via this post? Don’t you think it would be wise to find out all the facts rather than just what is posted here before commenting?

      • Well, I don’t live in Boston, and I completely agree with Fran. We went through the same thing at Atkinson Elementary last year with our new principal and it really sucks.

  16. As a teacher, the kids wearing costumes is just another distraction during an already crazy time. Not to mention, Halloween is on a Monday this year. That’s a hard way to begin the week!

    • Halloween is on Monday – and the kids will probably do their trick-or-treating on Sunday, which means putting on the whole costume getup for a second time, AFTER the fun part of the holiday is over. How anticlimactic.

      Maybe all that stifled creativity could be saved for the Harvest Festival, and have everyone dress up as a historical character as some schools do for their Harvest Parties.

      • I don’t know where you live, but I have never heard of trick-or-treating on any day other than the day of the actual holiday.

  17. My kids go to another SE Portland public elementary school, where we will be wearing costumes, thank goodness — but I agree with your position, Sharon. This whole situation is preposterous.

    Halloween is a non-sectarian holiday that generations of children have looked forward to. Is it absolutely necessary? No. But it’s fun and harmless. Kids have to be in school every week day from 8:30 to 3:00 for nine dreary months out of the year — a little time spent goofing around at Halloween time isn’t going to cause them any lasting academic damage and fosters school morale. Harvest, shmarvest.

    As I mentioned, I lived in Los Angeles most of my life, where attempts are made to celebrate diversity by adding stuff, not taking stuff away. I, a second generation Mexican-American, can spin a dreidel with the best of them and was once put in charge of organizing my oldest daughter’s kindergarten Latke Festival. So yes, all this brouhaha about cultural sensitivity at a school that is SO. OVERWHELMINGLY. WHITE. seems crazy to me.

    And this whole “let it go” “pick your battles” attitude is what maintains the status quo and gives people in authority their authority. It reminds me of a saying that’s often directed to children that I’ve always hated: “you get what you get and you don’t get upset.” I don’t believe in that and I don’t think it’s the kind of behavior we should model for our children. If you don’t like what you get, you have to speak up.

    • R. –
      The parent specifically asked in her post if she should ‘let it go’.
      It seems like misplaced energy to complain about a lack of a Halloween party in a school system that could really use her energy someplace else. I even suggested some ways to do that. No one is saying roll over and play dead. I’m saying get pissed about the real problems in PPS. Blog about that. Get on TV about that. Her problem comes off as some kind of First World whining.
      The race of the students have nothing to do with this.

      • But why are you assuming that all her energies are being directed to this fight rather than to other fights? Maybe she has more than enough fight in her to go around. You can always point to some “bigger picture” issue to distract people from the smaller ones — why do any of us care about PPS issues when there are children dying from preventable diseases in Africa, or going to bed hungry right here in Oregon? Because the smaller issues matter too, and you can donate to the Red Cross or the Oregon Food Bank or join your school’s PTA and *still* have energy left over to speak up when a school makes a change in policy in an arbitrary and non-transparent way.

  18. Oops, I meant Shannon, not Sharon. Rock on, Shannon! Sorry!

  19. I am a parent of kids at a SW Portland school that has a Halloween parade every year: http://marie-everydaymiracle.blogspot.com/2009/11/pre-halloween-parties-and-parades.html. The kids don’t wear their costumes to school, but they change into them 10 minutes before the parade. Apparently other principals have lobbied to have our Halloween parade stopped, and the parents (and kids) are adamant that we be able to keep it. Some of the kids really express their creativity in their costumes, and it’s a great tradition for the whole community.

    On the other hand, my sister lives in the Tacoma area, and none of their schools celebrate Halloween. Her children’s school has an evening “harvest party,” where the kids can wear costumes, but nothing in school. I believe it’s because of concerns from ultra-religious (fundamentalist) Christians, who believe that Halloween is a celebration of Satan or paganism, or something like that.

    While I’m all for supporting various religious and ethnic traditions, I also think that Halloween is a tiny bit of harmless (and creative) fun for the kids. It’s too bad that fun is being sacrificed for the sake of a minority of people who protest.

  20. Just heard about your story on Newschannel 8. No Halloween? How disheartening. šŸ˜¦ I have an idea that might help remedy things though. It’s something I started doing to help honor 911. How bout making Fall themed Valentine’s that say, “Love to you – keep it or pass it on” in different languages and passing them out that day. Teachers and staff could do it, students could do it, and you all would be helping me in my mission to spread as much love to as many people and as many places as I can. I’d even come help, šŸ™‚ you can find out more if you red the “about” section of a page I created on facebook. You can find it here. Also feel free to email with questions too. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Nine-Eleven-Valentines/274446179249538

  21. Shannon, we had the same BS last year at Atkinson (where, BTW, the principal brings new meaning to evil). Thankfully my daughter’s now at Da Vinci (rapidly becoming the only PPS school that values individuality), where they can pretty much wear costumes EVERY day.

    “Ms. Debbie” lobbied heavily among Atkinson parents to get her way—costumes were elitist, it wasn’t fair to poor kids (Ms. Debbie persuaded herself we were some urban ghetto school and everyone was on
    welfare, even though most of us were middle class), it was this, it was that.
    When all is said and done, I think SHE just didn’t like Halloween.

    Anyway, we resisted and ultimately, this was one of the very few victories we had against Principal Nazi. We still didn’t get candy, though all her
    heavily favored Spanish immersion kids got to celebrate Day of the Dead with chocolate treats and fun the next day. My daughter rather fabulously made a point of annoying the hag by swishing about as American Girl Samantha every chance she got.

    Sadly, she’s still there, lying to parents and making children miserable (recently she freaked out on all of them at an assembly for applauding too much, because everyone has to be treated exactly the same”).

    • It is not just Ms Debbie, but many principals in PPS; they are taught these systemic approaches to dealing with parents and sticky situations like all the “elitist,” parents who just want to have their kids enjoy traditional events without having to hear about all the other kids who can’t enjoy the same things. It is a major thread in PPS communications as they lower the bar for all instead of raising it so the kids will have the tools to deal with a more rigorous education and have the chance to explore and partake of our diverse culture.
      Keep listening as the role of “equity, ” becomes the main catch word for the district in all of these situations.

  22. Pingback: Portland school bans Halloween costumes over inequality

  23. Sorry folks, I stand by my post and beliefs. There were no meetings to propose a compromise, alternatives or even a discussion to offer other ideas. This decision wa made by a group of people over the course of weeks. There will be other meanginful, fun, creative and imaginative activities going on up to that week. No costumes or parties is really no big deal, only if you make it so. According to Ms Nagy’s KGW post it is what she wants (to have her child parade in his costume) – that screams ‘personal issue’ as does many of the comments posted. It is unfortunate that adults make this into a bigger issue than it needs to be and to air their personal feelings in such tabloid way to the media. There is no hidden agenda or trampling of any rights…it simply is a decision that has been inplace for a second year now…Buckman is an incredible place to learn, with higher standards and curriculum in place and this controversy truly is misplaced and distracts from the real issues needing to be addressed…No capital letters…but let it go…Let it go.

    • Thanks for your reiteration, Martha. For the record, I passionately complained about this decision last year. My complaint was in person to our principal (who is a great principal by the way – disagreeing on this issue does not change that). I let him know that we would respect his decision for the sake of our special guests, but that next year I would fight the issue with words. That’s what I’m doing. It seems overblown because the costume ban at Buckman has become a springboard for what many of us believe is wrong – our country’s obsession with PC; a more than newsworthy topic. A side benefit is that my children are learning to stand up for their beliefs by watching my example and since since food, shelter and education are not at stake here, this seems the perfect opportunity to create a community dialogue which we can all learn from. It’s not just a local issue. There’s http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/14/halloween-costumes-and-ce_n_1010875.html indication that a large number of people believe children should be allowed to wear costumes at school and many of these people expressed extreme frustration with our overly-PC culture. Dozens of Buckman parents expressed the same frustration. I can let go of the costumes. But I’m moving forward with the rest of it in an attempt to determine what is secular versus non-secular, what is inclusive versus exclusive, and who gets to decide.

      • I do not think you understand fully what this is doing to the administrator, teachers and other who work there who CANNOT voice their opinion because they have to live it…This has turned into a tabloid situation that shouldn’t be as public as it has become…too many facts are not posted, only opinions…Halloween is not cancelled! Please do not use Buckman and the children to put forth personal agenda or someone’s own protest over something as small as not wearing costumes to school…It is hurting more than it is helping…There are dozens more parents who are fine with this decision and are making other plans with their teachers for a fun filled day…Do you REALLY want Buckman to be portrayed in this way and for these reasons????

      • I am guessing that Martha is the voice of reason here, at least she comes off that way. The point isn’t just Halloween it is a number of issues that have been stated here, but you seem bent on telling everyone else about how this hurts the school etc…really. The district has no problem stirring up the pots on any number of issues and lets not start the equity issue about kids who don’t have this or that; everyone can be accomodated…Zumpe has it right…it is the “emerging pattern of exclusion and dictatorial style decision making among schools, under the guise of political correctness.”

    • Martha72, again, NOTHING fun has been planned for my kid’s class this week. Nothing. The planned pajama day has been cancelled and nothing else is happening. Definitely no “other meanginful, fun, creative and imaginative activities going on up to that week” unless the whole school missed that memo.

      Just thought you might like to get your facts straight.

  24. Grandparent of children who attend Buckman

    It has always been an American right to have a petition. It is a peaceful
    way of being heard. It is an act of civility. To insult petitioners and imply
    in any way they do not have the best interests of the children at heart
    is sad beyond words. People are traumatized when they see their public
    school eradicate a tradition. Times are tough economically for many kids
    at Buckman. Why not let them have a little fun for onne day?

  25. I am one of twenty parents who said they would start a petition, if it wasn’t me it would’ve been someone else. If I had collected 50 signatures and most people agreed with the policy, I would’ve dropped it as the majority would have spoken. This is not about me, I am simply a vehicle for many parents who have written me and are grateful that I am bringing this up for discussion. This is not a “personal issue” as the majority of parents agree that cancelling Halloween was a brash move without consensus. What “Martha” may not understand is that I was attempting to stop a much larger movement to pull kids out of school to celebrate Halloween and I didn’t want to hurt Buckman’s attendence. I wanted to diffuse the situation peacefully and brainstorm for solutions, but have simply hit a brickwall. I still want to help arts funding, homeless youth, support cancer patients, see the end of tyranny, etc. etc. Don’t blame the messenger and last year, Shannon and I both complained to the principal so that arguement is smoke and mirrors.

    • I don’t think so…It was about what a small group of parents wanted and it snowballed into a mess. This was compared to the ‘occupy Portland’ and ‘occupy wall street’ movement, to rights being taken away, oppression, etc…Here is your quote on KGW “Several Buckman parents, myself included. wrote saying we wished a return next year because it is important to us. Harvest celebrations are great, I don’t care what is called as long as my kindergartener son gets to parade in his squirrel costume.” So you cannot say it isn’t a personal issue. You say you love Buckman (same KGW post) but this has caused a huge and unjust amount of controversy, undue media attention and put many many people in very uncomfortable positions – teachers, parents, community members, PPS, secretaries. Is that something you do to something you love? Not wearing a Halloween costume to school isn’t the end of the world, but it is made out to be…It had nothing to do with attendance and there was no ‘diffusing the situation peacefully’ nor was there a ‘brainstorm for solutions’ – there was an adversarial response to the school’s decision from the beginning. You cannot say it is about a little creativity/imagination either – you KNOW Buckman is an arts focus and that creativity and imagination is all over the school ALL YEAR LONG. Halloween is NOT cancelled – costumes and parties are…THAT has been lost on the emotions adults have placed onto this situation. I don’t think you or any others that are a part of this realize what it has done to the school, teachers, administrator and other parents…it really is sad, very very sad.

      • Martha, I’m completely mystified as to the sad, sad things this has done to teachers, administrators and other parents at Buckman. Standing up and displaying disagreement with policies in schools that we pay for and entrust our children at is not only our right, but really our responsibility.

        AS a non-Buckman parent, I’ve touched on here and there what starts to happen at schools where this form of political correctness runs out of control. We organized (some parents are still organized) and were able to oppose some of the ridiculousness we saw. Parents organized at Tabor and eventually got their very bad principal moved. IN the case of Atkinson, I wish that we could have some media scrutiny on the many issues Ms. Debbie has created.

        That said, you largely talk in riddles—what are all these sad terrible things happening, other than some attention on an issue that bears examinint, at a school that they otherwise support? You bring up lots of “you don’t knows”—well tell everyone and then maybe the tone will change. Give conrete examples, not just YOUR feelings and opinions.

        IN the end, the only thing I think “we don’t know” is how this mioght affect kids as whole, with fun in their childhoods extracted, piece by piece, only to be replaced with extreme conformity and mediocrity.

      • @ zumpie – read the posts on the Portland Mercury site…vile language…This situation is on the Huffington Post which tends to be an ultra liberal media outlet and will often draw the attention of extreme views…it has been posted on FB pages as well as Jon Stewart’s ‘Daily Show’ FB page…if you are a non-Buckman parent then all the views you receive are from these posts and from the blogger (s) Is that an appropriate way to educated yourself on any given issue? For those that work at Buckman, it has put their school in a controversial light, they have to answer questions about this to others which puts them in a peculiar predicament when all they want to do is teach. There are serious issues happening at the school that need the full attention of the administrator, teachers, staff et al and they have to contend with this controversy. It is sad because of the division it has caused, the lack of facts presented, the judgement and name calling via the media the hidden emotions and feelings that are coming out of those opposed because of a simple rule not to wear costumes at school. Halloween is not canceled, teachers are trying to teach, administrators are trying to get better funding, deal with district requirements and ensuring a safe and enriching environment for the children at Buckman. There are only a few people that have turned this into a HUGE issue and through their own ‘personal protest’ agenda have created a mess that needs to be dealt with in a ‘population’ that has lost the ability to think critically. Confidentiality dictates that many school issues dealing with families and children NOT be shared. The entire staff is aware of more than what the blogger is posting, but due to confidentiality, cannot speak about it because it involves children and parents. There is NO conformity at Buckman, if you were a parent there you would KNOW this to false…

      • Martha, do you work at Buckman? If you do, you shouldn’t be on this blog anyway.

      • No, I do not work there…but I am very closely related to Buckman…close enough to know there is more to this story than what is blogged here and what is happening…I have a close relationship with many at the school (parents and teachers) and know how incredible it is…I can post where I feel the need to express a viewpoint, yet it seems there is little others can say that will lessen the stress and emotion this has created…I tried to offer an additional insight to what a chaotic mess this has turned into and how it has affected many in and around the school…There is always other sides to stories and most don’t want to hear it, some are not even directly related to the school…I must commend and thank ‘Just A Teacher’ for his/her posts…excellent perspective and viewpoint…You’ll see no other posts from me as it makes no difference what I write, the majority of people posting have their minds made up and I am not going to even try to give alternative ideas…my energies will be better served in other volunteering opportunities…

  26. Wow, really? Excuse me while I ponder the ‘outrage’ over what? Seriously and Halloween is indeed a ‘religious’ practices. Suggest people do a simple Google of it.

    It comes from ancient CELTIC Beliefs: http://www.history.com/topics/halloween

    It also comes from: Roman feast of Pomona, the **goddess** of fruits and seeds,: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halloween.

    But the thing is … here where I live – I know some that simply cannot afford costumes and such for their kids. You might want to think about that. So some kids are told, “We cannot afford it this year.” And they cannot! I know a number of families that have had to say, “Not this year.”

    Halloween is a steaped in ‘religion’ … sorry but it is.

    Now understand, I enjoy and I do Halloween as much as the next person … but to say it has no religious ties, is like saying Christmas is just “about Santa Clause and toys” … Is it?

  27. Grandparent of children who attend Buckman

    I bet if you lined up 50 kids from Buckman and asked what the meaning of Halloween was, not one would say religion. Halloween also provides an
    economic boost to businesses, some small and struggling. One Public
    library in another community is offering a free costume exchange in light
    of economic hard times. It was the schoolboards of various cities which
    encouraged Halloween back in the 1930s, an economic time similar
    to this one, to keep kids out of trouble. A school apparently is a hierarchal
    power structure. The decision is made at the top. Talk about a lack of
    equity, why can some schools celebrate the conventional way, and others
    cannot, especially when the schools are supported from public tax dollars?

  28. Yes I remember, back in the day. Like I said, I enjoy Halloween as much as the next person.

    But this isn’t “then” – which is kind of sad. I remember getting Popcorn Balls, Carmel Apples and all sorts of homemade treats without any fear or 2nd thought. I also remember when costumes were not big $$$’s … the sad reality today is some spend a lot of $$$ to “look good” … it’s become all about ego – being the best …. instead of just good old fashion, kick the can, FUN.

    Today it’s about entitlement – my ‘right’ and well …. to quote an old phrase – This is majoring in the minors. Much to do, in the big picture about nothing, if we are honest??

  29. I disagree that modern Halloween is about “entitlement”—I see plenty of kids in hugely expensive costumes, I see plenty of kids in costumes made of castoffs, thrift shop stuff and (just like when we were kids) crepe paper. While kids certainly enjoy their costumes, it isn’t about looking good, it’s about having fun!

    BTW, obviously some kids are going to have better costumes than other kids (for a variety of reasons including economics, parental decisions, the kid’s own decision, etc), just as some kids are going to have nicer clothes, a better lunch, a nicer pencil case, a more impressive vacation, etc. And some kids will do better academically, artistically or whatever than other kids.

    And guess what? it’s all completely okay. When you start forcing fake equity, you actually condemn everyone to mediocrity and conformity. Or as, my favorite lady, Ms. Debbie, recently did during an Atkinson assembly, you start screaming at kids for applauding one performing over another, because everything has to be equal all the time.

  30. I should probably preface my comments by saying that I come to this discussion as a non-parent (but I do teach theatre classes to kids aged 8-18, and have for about 15 years now, so I have put in a lot of classroom time). So I’m not a parent, I don’t have kids at the school involved, and this is all probably none of my business.

    But I DO remember being a kid. I loved school – classes, friends, teachers – all of it. My family did celebrate holidays, and I loved that too. And being excited with other kids and my teacher about holidays at school created a lot of happiness.

    I think in general, the trend to avoid recognizing holidays, or make anything “special” in school to avoid upsetting a really, really, small percentage of the population is misguided. I understand it means you avoid the angry phone call from the parent who won’t let their child attend school that day because of religious beliefs. But I honestly think most people who practice religions that don’t celebrate holidays are not stupid, and they already know the rest of the world does celebrate those holidays, and are prepared to navigate it. The majority of the world celebrates holidays. You can eliminate it from schools, but it’s still everywhere else, so whether you choose to participate or not, you are not going to escape it. Why should schools be held exclusively responsible for exposing kids to holidays? Holiday propaganda is everywhere. And it’s everywhere because the majority of the world likes celebrating. (And yeah I know, evil advertising/big business profits/blah blah blah. Bottom line, people still seem to love buying it because they love celebrating holidays, so it sells. I’m guessing the small independent farmers on Sauvie’s Island who make a profit selling pumpkins in October are as happy about Halloween as the people who manufacture candy.)

    I also think it bears mentioning that for the kids whose families are struggling economically, school may be the one place in the world where that kid DOES get a chance to celebrate and do something special. My husband grew up at poverty level, in a very sad and abusive home, with one intensely abusive parent and one absentee parent. If it were not for exposure he had at school to more “normal” and mainstream recognition of special events/holidays in his classroom, he would have gone his whole childhood experiencing pretty much nothing in terms of celebrations. To this day, his good memories of his childhood are all school related, and always center around a teacher who did something “special” for the class to celebrate something.

    Perhaps the most disturbing/concerning thing is the question of who are the people on the “equity team” who made this decision, and why are they being allowed to choose for everyone else – especially if they were not elected by the parents who they are representing?

  31. Parent of Kids who don't celebrate Halloween

    I have an 8 year old daughter and a 4 years old son. My kids have never trick-or-treated. We have given out brand-new pencils and pipe cleaners on Halloween, when we’re home. Otherwise, we leave a bowl of them on the porch with a note. When we’re home, the kids get excited about children coming to the door dressed up. My children go to a school that does not celebrate Halloween and the Early-Childhood faculty host a night-time walk in a forest lit with lanterns. We sing traditional folk harvest songs and visit different “characters” in the forest who give treats (an apple, a popcorn ball) or a “gem”. While the school does not personally celebrate Halloween (costumes are not allowed), they recognize that it is celebrated and thus, school is closed the day after Halloween. Even for children who don’t trick-or-treat, this day off is a welcome break from the lather and frenzy that is the inescapable childhood excitement and anticipation of *something* – whether it is for themselves or just in the world.

    (Just a little context on who’s commenting)


    I have some questions:

    1. I am personally curious to know: What is there in life that a person couldn’t turn into an experience of being excluded?

    For an art school, in my opinion, this is a very uncreative answer! It takes money to create something? Ack! What if mathematics is against my religion? Let’s get equitable, people!

    2. Grammar? A firm “Tsk! Tsk!” to the writers (and editors!) of the statement that says, “The spirit of equity has lead most PPS schools…” Has led, dear writers, led. And a stern look to all readers of this post, despite the impassioned critical eyes toward the meat of the subject, who have not commented on this glaring error!

    3. Deemphasizing Halloween? Did I read pumpkin carving somewhere? And other activities? This would be in line with de-emphasizing, yes. And….

    It does seem rather unusual of a move for an arts school to eliminate the aspect of the holiday that lives in the fantasy/creativity realm: costumes. Were there parameters? No masks, for instance? No blood? Is it too scary for the little ones? Did something happen? Are students complaining about costumes? Parents? I am curious about what led up to the decision.

    Because if it’s religious equity, if you want to get down to it, carving pumpkins (or radishes/turnips originally, from what I’ve heard) is to scare away the evil spirits. If religion is the angle, I’m not won over by the pumpkin carving scenario – it’s downright pagan magic!

    There doesn’t seem to be enough of a conversation happening with a large enough portion of the parent/student body to have this decision actually be equitable. Perhaps that’s what’s garnering suspicion in the parent body?

    Then again, this could be a step in the direction you are actually arguing for – equity is a great conversation. I see an opening! Here it is: It would be far more reasonable for my family (all families!) to have 4 days of work and 3 days of rest. Can I get an ‘amen’? Oops, I mean, a positive affirmation, eek, I mean an indication toward a harmonious, um, a mutually agreed-upon signal to indicate a suggested vote toward an action?

    Bah. Life was easier when we ‘voted’!

  32. Grandparent of children who attend Buckman

    Good question. May this “equity team” please stand up. Give us the
    explantion of how they got the appointment to the “equity team”.
    Chances are we will never here another comment from Buckman
    School. It will simply go to the PR person for the PPS. It would be interesting
    to know what other decisions this “equity team” has made. Do other
    schools in Portland now also have equity teams?

    • Yes, other schools have “Equity Teams,” and teachers take classes on “equity.” It is the latest buzz word with PPS and their policy makers. This smallish issue is just the beginning, you will see more “smallish,” issues come up now that we want all kids to be the same. You might want to ask the principal about the teams and how they were chosen.

  33. If parents would be parents – this would be wonderful. I guess I’m thinking back to the parent who ‘faught’ to prevent his child from having to say the Pledge of Aleg. The funny thing was .. when the child was actually asked what he thought, well … “It’s not a big deal. I kind of like it. It makes me feel good.” So the ‘fight’ was not for the kid – the kid was fine with it, it was a parent making a ‘deal’ where there was none, as far as the kid goes.

    I guess I’m at a loss as to “why the big deal”? Are there not really more important things to BLOG about? How about why schools cannot fire BAD teachers and actually BLOG and FIGHT for BAD TEACHERS SHOULD BE FIRED! (??) or …. does the Government have the right to teach “Sex Ed” and Condum use to K – 3rd Grade ….

    I just find it strange with all the serious issues in our Public Schools … some choose this “fight” … ????

  34. Just a teacher...

    I am a teacher. Trust me. You are fighting this fight, but parents on the other side of the issue are fighting us when there IS Halloween celebrated in the school. Schools can’t win. I don’t want to stop you from standing up for your kids, but please remember everyone’s perspectives. I appreciate yours, too (I happen to think celebrating Halloween at school is fun). There are many sides to every debate, including this one. As a teacher I hear parents complaints about a lot of issues: curriculum, lunch menus, class size, bullying, etc. Add Halloween to the list. I’m going to say again, remember all the sides: there is yours, people who don’t celebrate Halloween, the teachers, the principal, and the district’s perspectives. There is no right or wrong answer. We’re all just trying to do what’s best for the kids, and there are many different opinions as to what that is.

    • First of all: my sympathies and thanks for doing the hard work you do! Secondly: I would love to hear more about your experiences with parents who object to Halloween celebrations. Can you be more specific about what their complaints are? I am honestly curious, because I am still having trouble getting my head around this.

      Also — I think it would have been fantastic if Buckman — an arts magnet! — had had the children make their own costumes as part of a school project, maybe asking for donations of paper supplies, etc., and involving the parents as volunteers.

    • I assure you, your words do not fall on deaf ears. Your opinion matters to me.

  35. Just A Teacher – Wow, this is a good POV in my POV. We forget all the different beliefs in a Public School and the teacher’s – schools do have to walk a ‘fine line’ …. We see it from our POV … but Public Schools belong to the public – not just certain beliefs and such. Well posted, in my opinion.

  36. LS, that was an amazing post and my heart goes out to your husband. I’ll also add that as a child I had a rather schizo upbringing in which I sometimes lived with my single mom in borderline poverty and sometimes with well off relatives. My favorite Halloween costume was not the custom made black cat costume, but when I was a witch in crepe paper. Kids just like dressing up, they really don’t care how fancy or not fancy it is. Not to mention most commercial costumes when I was little were much more throw away than ones made nowadays.

    As for the “bad teachers and (sic) condums” post: I very much doubt there’s a single parent here who wouldn’t look to do something about bad teachers. My daughter’s 3rd grade teacher was completely horrible and our principal got almost daily phone calls from me because of it. Actually, overall, I’ve otherwise been pretty impressed with my daughter’s teachers (especially her 4/5th grade teacher, who was mind blowingly good).

    “Sex Ed” isn’t taught at the third grade level—or what passes for it in 4th/5th is basic puberty. Which was covered when I was that age in the 1970’s in Kansas. I don’t know of any school (certainly not in PPS) that teaches 8 year olds how to use condoms—or even what sex is. Where exactly do you get your information, anyway?

    However, I don’t see it as a bad thing when schools teach basic sex ed and drug/alcohol awareness to middle school children. Knowing these things can help kids make better, informed decisions—instead of blithely picking up a crack pipe at 13.

    But the costume issue is a big deal because it reflects an immerging pattern of exclusion and dictatorial style decision making among schools, under the guise of political correctness. It’s also our right and responsibility to resist choices we disagree with (as the very awesome Buckman Grandparent noted about). Finally, it’s because we want children to actually enjoy thier childhoods. Yes, they need to learn, but school is also about socialization and sometimes having fun. Childhood memories like school Halloween parties are important—and taking this away from our kids is truly heartbreaking.

  37. Pingback: Portland school bans Halloween costumes over inequality

  38. Pingback: No Halloween costumes due to… | Fellowship of the Minds

  39. Here is the thing, IF you want Halloween back, you have to start taking back the schools in the BIG THINGS.

    I find it curious we are all upset over Halloween. You want it back, then start taking back the schools. Do NOT allow the schools, et all tell you parents what “IS” … You tell them what “IS”!!


    Start voting the suckers out, take the teacher’s Unions to task that BAD Teachers are not and will not be tolerated. We’ve allowed the Government and Schools to dictate to us, as if we live and work for them.

    NO .. NO .. NO … they work for us.

    Unitl you all are willing to actually take a stand and take back the schools, BLOGS like this will continue to happen … well Bloging is a good start, then start TAKING ACTION….

    You want your schools back? Then take them back. Funny I don’t see these kinds of posts from parents who go to Private and/or Christian Schools. They have parties, Halloween and other holidays. But they (Parents) are in charge and the Private – Christian Schools know it!

    Just food for thought.

    • Ummm, geez louise, where to begin:

      You pretty clearly out yourself, as a rightwing, anti-union, pro-privatization poster here—and guess what? All you do is repeat fallacious talking points (much like your previous “condums in third grade” post) that have been largely proven untrue.

      1) Firstly, Buckman has a great reputation and most parents are overall quite happy with the teachers, administration and focus of the school (I wish I had tried to get my daughter in there). They just don’t like this, so they’re disputing it, exactly as they should. Why would they fight to remove the teachers they support and like? Exactly, they don’t need to, so they’re addressing the issues they do have problems with.

      2) As I mentioned, those of us who have had issues have addressed them. Sometimes they’re resolved effectively, sometimes they’re not. I’m no huge fan of PPS but I find them much more responsive than my privately held cell phon provider in resolving my issues.

      3) Many, many Christian (and “real” private schools—I consider most parachioal schools to offer a third rate at best education). Have eliminated Halloween and other such “pagan” or controversial holdiays. If anything, parents are less, not more in charge because they chose to send their kids there, and thus comply with how the school operates.There’s also sometimes the case of parents paying through a “donation” to get thier way at a school. Which is corrupt bribery in my opinion.

      Not to mention, many private schools won’t take just anyone (I’m talking elite ones, not crappy, local Xtian ones)–it’s considered a privelege to attend and you must comply with a myriad of established, non-negotiable rules. So much for parents “being in charge”.

      I’m sure you’re also firmly of the opinion that Christian and even charter schools offer a superior level of education, as well. Guess what? They don’t—test scores time and time again disprove this fallacy. Not to mention charter and Christian school teachers are exempt from the standards of public school teachers, so they’re almost invariably less qualified, experienced and educated than their public school counterparts.

      BTW, the hated Ms DEbbie I’ve referred to comes from an entirely charter based background. It’s precisely WHY she still thinks she can operate with impunity, bullies excellent, accomplished teachers (she feels threatened by their superior qualifications) and gets all pissed at parents who dare to question her. THERE’S your privatized charter curriculum at work for you!

      And I fully support teachers’ unions. They’re educated professionals doing a very difficult job for which they deserve to be appropriately compensated for.

      • Well all I will say is, Do NOT give up your day job to become a Psychic or such. You pegged me wrong. But nice try.

      • Wow! There’s a stellar, well reasoned argument—“no, I’m not and you’re wrong”. So instead of making such claims, prove me wrong. All your posts here are very anti-union, anti-public education, pro-Christian education. All far right talking points. If I’m incorrect, prove it.

  40. mommyofmonsters

    Sadly, this has become a power struggle between our principal, 250+ parents and a school full of kids. Our principal is in the position to alleviate the distractions surrounding this issue and come up with a compromise! Instead, I have seen him take an adamant position with an unwillingness to budge. Listen to the people (with varying opinions), come up with a solution, be creative. Let us set a positive example for everyone, the community, the nation, but especially our kids. Many schools celebrate the season in a manner that is culturally acceptable for all. We can figure this out. Let’s think outside the box, isn’t that what we are about at Buckman? With all the attention this matter is getting, we need a positive outcome! Principal Brian, you have the leading role and regarding this issue, I am not impressed by your performance.

  41. I googled the principal and learned he has a 20 yr background working
    as a mediator (unless I googled wrong). Seems he should put those skills
    to work, if ever there was a need! If teachers at Buckman had used
    Halloween to teach religion in anyway, that would not only have been
    wrong, they should have been fired. The only people who put religion
    into this secular holiday, really, were the complainers, who totally got
    their way. If a parent sees a costume celebration as religious indoctrination,
    they have every right to keep the kids home for the day. Last I heard,
    costume design was part of the arts.

    • Actually, you can teach the historical component of religion, but not the dogma. You can introduce the religious background of an event, but you can’t get into the teaching of that religion.

  42. That is exactly right. This is really move to erase our history in the schools
    of celebrating Halloween. The compromise is the Harvest Celebration.
    Like we should harbor a sense of shame for wanting our kids to celebrate
    Halloween, as many had already done in their school life. Or we did in
    ours. This is not about diversity, it is about intolerance of our heritage.
    I never knew a public school principal had such power until now.

  43. zumpie, that is sad. If principals think the community is not watching their actions, there are no curbs to their power. Schools need watchdogs
    apparently. I think things need to be more transparent. If information
    is hidden, there is always the possibility of tyranny.

  44. @Martha, I found the blog from the Portland Mercury—I didn’t find the comments particularly “vile”. As for HuffPost and The Daily Show, I like both those media outlets—because, guess what? I’m ultra progressive (we don’t really use liberal, anymore) as are most Portlanders and absolutely most Buckman parents. It isn’t called the “People’s Republic” for nothing!

    So some people voicing their dissent, which is their right and responsibility as parents, Americans, etc were fortunate enough to bring media attention to what’s actually a nationwide, controversial issue to a school in Portland. To be honest, I’m jealous, cause I would’ve LOVED that kind of attention brought to my school last year. But anyway, my point is, a little sunlight on these things isn’t always a bad thing.

    As for teachers trying to teach, etc…here’s a thought since most parents at Buckman want Halloween reinstated (or are neutral) give it to them! Problem solved, no more distractions. Plus, those teachers “trying teach” and administrators trying to obtain funds work for the parents as taxpayers. If the Buckman community wants Halloween, that should be their choice, not one person’s arbitrary decision.

  45. Amen! oops, the word has religious overtones. Show the kids how
    democracy works. Have Halloween. Don’t be insensitive to the majority.
    Let all kids come dressed – up. Institute a donation box for costumes,
    in need be. Ask for parents to help. Show the nation that Portland listens
    to parents when their feelings run deep. Is that really asking too much?
    Have Harvest Day for the kids who would prefer to celebrate that. What
    a prime opportunity to teach tolerance, especially, when the world needs it more than ever. To many, it is standing up for our cultural identity!

  46. UPDATE. A heartfelt thanks to everyone who has contributed to this debate. I’ve yet to speak with any of the TV reporters who have contacted me for an interview as I’m a tad concerned about being whittled-down to a clip that misses the heart of the story (again, a larger issue than costumes). With regard to “bad teachers” – while I agree that tax payers should take responsibility by voting and demanding change, there is not a single teacher at Buckman Arts I’d want to see go. The Arts Team (which makes our school exceptional) and the grades teachers are nothing short of amazing in my book. I’ve been a Buckman parent for six years (with an additional five to ten years to go!). Every teacher (EVERY last one) we’ve ever had has gone above and beyond the call of duty to reach my children.

    If our teachers were to tell me in person that they do not support Halloween, their words would mean much more to me than any Equity Team, PPS representative or offended parent. Words in a class newsletter don’t count for much, because the system is unfortunately very political and sometimes there’s pressure to appear unified even when that’s not the case. Part of the trouble here is that the decision was made without a fair sample of our community and although there are some great ideas for alternatives to Halloween, the alternative (a Harvest Festival in November) was decided without us. I question the process.

    I in no way, shape or form believe for a second that this is painting Buckman in a negative light. It is not an attack on our school. To disagree, debate, communicate – all good!

  47. ruin it for the kids you schmucks!! political correctness is out the window these days,that is what got this Country in the mess it is in.

  48. Fox news had a clip about the banning of Halloween in a school in MA,
    the other school mentioned on The Huffington Post. The principal,
    think it is Somerville, has also instituted a ban of Thanksgiving and
    Columbus Day. The mayor is irate. Some little girl circulated a petition.
    A boy said how is it anyone can tell us what to celebrate. It is not just
    a Buckman issue. The principal was unavailable for comment.

  49. Switzerland Papa

    I have walked halls of Buckman for many years in numerous capacities and never havseen witnessed such an interesting and selfish set of posts from parents as I have seen here. While I usually stay out of situations like this, I cannot stay out any longer…When I hear that my children’s administrator has been repeatedly (for days) harassed on the phone, in e-mails and has been personally THREATENED numerously in the worst way (his family too) ie death threats, yes DEATH threats, I have only one thing to say about it all…Shut up and stop. I hear what parents are saying behind your backs, how foolish and embarrassing and angry they feel towards this unprecedented fiasco. The teachers just shake their heads and cannot comment. This was an in-house school situation that has turned into a pandora’s box. There are some parents who are upset about this, but there are less than handful that have been singularly responsible for the uproar and have fanned the flames of this fire…I love my children and want what is best for them, but when parents act in such a manner that can spark threats towards someone who is doing his job with a wider perspective than many, I have to say it simply is time to stop. Just stop.

    • Really Swiss,
      These situations always bring out a few kooks and it seems like there are more than just a few people upset about this. People have the right to express themselves and if the school administrators can’t handle it, then they need to have the district intervene. It seems like PPS is just hanging the principal out to dry on this one. Of, course everyone on the inside always has the right story. Plus, how would you know what is happening to the principal in the first place, they are usually told by the district to keep that kind of information private….Maybe the wide perspective of the principal and the district is just too wide, just remember equity

    • Switzerland Papa, are you suggesting we stop talking online?

      No further action is being taken at school. We collected signatures in person only two days to avoid discord. The halls are abuzz, true, but they wouldn’t be if these weren’t such controversial issues. We are much more than a handful of people. I’m sorry for the discomfort. Many people prefer more private forums, but this is the way I communicate. I have no control over anyone else. With all due respect, talking behind people’s backs is not nearly as courageous as speaking out.

  50. Maybe we should burn the Constitution?

  51. @pdxnative: I’m a former Atkinson parent and Ms. Debbie hater! We probably know each other. Feel free to email me at deetdee12@yahoo.com

    @Swiss—death threats, really???? Even at Atkinson no one ever made death threats against the principal and everyone pretty much hates her (as they did previously at Arleta). Actually, if Buckman’s principal really did receive such threats, why wouldn’t he contact the police? I was banned just for questioning the disciplinary action brought against my daughter at Atkinson.

    • I seariosly question the death threats too. Having actually been a receiver one decades or so ago, I was told by the police to NOT talk about until it had all been settled. Because until they (Police) actually know what is going on, it could have been a serious misunderstanding and not an actual death threat.

      I find it strange that some would know about and other not.

      What I think might have actually happened is:
      Gossiper 1 -> to Gossiper 2 “I would not be surprised if he gets death threats over this.”
      Gossiper 2 – “Wow, I never thought about some people might do this!”
      Gossiper 2 -> to Gossiper 3, “I heard he got a death threat! These people need to check the emotions at the door! For petsakes, it’s not that big a deal.”
      Gossiper 3 -> to Gossiper 4, ‘The principle got a death threat! can you believe that.”
      Gossiper 4, “Yes I can, people can loose it to quickly.”

      But if indeed a Death threat was made, the police would have told the Priniciple to SAY NOTHING, until it was confirmed and if it was even semi-serious, he would have been given PROTECTION or told to stay at home, with a watch at this home.

  52. Trying to stigmatize people for circulating or signing a petition serves
    no purpose. Is a school just a black box where no one can question
    policy, and a simple policy at that? People have the right to their feelings,
    that is for sure. An in house situation – does this mean only the employees
    or the Principal can make the rules when it is an instition funded by tax
    dollars? Isn’t this just a case of hypersensitive emotion over calling this
    a fiasco? Is this a lesson for our children just to accept authority without
    ever questioning anything?

  53. @zumpie: Please stop personally attacking the Atkinson principal. It’s unseemly.

    As to the whole costumes-during-the-school day thing, I’d prefer not to have them because I think they create a lot of distraction that lasts pretty much the entire school day. Changing right after school, showing it off to your friends on the playground, running around and playing with it on, having some popcorn and cider–wouldn’t that suffice for a compromise?

    • @Casper: A) it’s not for you to tell myself or any other poster what to do. B) I didn’t personally attack her, I brought up facts pertaining to her gross abuse of power and how if parents fail to unite and address this, they’ll find thier school a little prison camp.

      But since you went there, I’ll say it. Atkinson’s principal sucks: she’s a bully who lashes out against anyone staff, parents or students who dare to question her. She is rude, patronizing and a complete bitch. She’s also terrible at her job and should be fired. And under no circumstances should she be permitted to work with children.

      That said, I don’t see after school (when kids are supposed to leave the grounds of most schools) as being much of a compromise. It’s one day—schools spend plenty of school time on non-academic activities. They’re kids, it’s perfectly okay for them to do something fun once in a while.

      • Zumpie – A number of years ago, I was going through no little challenge with the Principal of our Middle School. I even had to bring in the Asst. Super. of the district. Basically I started to catch this Bully – Blame Shifting – and what finally brought her down was two lies, that she “rationalized”. But since I started to bring witnesses into the dialog … well she was fired, no Unions to protect her. If this Atkison Principal is what is claimed. Video Record her … have witnesses come forward and take it to the Asst. Super. of your district. Video and Witnesses are hard to wave away, especially when they know it could go “Viral” and bring seriously BAD PR to the district. It is time to take our schools back. They do not belong to the Government or Unions … they belong to us, WE PAY ALL THE BILLS.

        Where I live, when I finally “HAD ENOUGH”, I started a movement to ‘vote agaist our upcomming approval of property taxes.’ It did fail and the School District actually started to listen to US .. Not the Unions and such …..

  54. I doubt anyone would be outraged if some had not complained to deaf
    ears last year.

  55. Someone needs to start a blog so all school policies can be put under
    the microscope and we can keep a vigilant eye on all PPS policies..
    I saw DR. Phil yesterday, the segment was on school bullies. Only
    way you have a responsive public school system is to keep a shared
    dialogue for all parents to discuss issues. When people connect digitally
    over common policies , the schools will feel the need to be responsive
    to parental concerns. School issues are a public concern because our
    future is our children. Not everyone can home school cause the family
    needs to eat, and not many could even begin to afford a private education.

  56. @ zumpie
    A. I didn’t tell you to stop, I asked you (obviously to no avail).
    B. Calling her “evil,” a “hag,” and a “complete bitch” does not sound like you are describing “facts pertaining to her gross abuse of power.” Those are personal attacks.

    I get that you hate her, and that the apparent vendetta you are on was ignited by some absolutely horrible experiences you had, but the zealousness of your vitriol makes me question your presumption that you know how everyone else at the school feels about the Atkinson principal; you seem so hell-bent on demonizing her that I doubt your perspective on what others experience could be a dispassionate reflection of what actually happens.

    I hope your daughter’s time at Da Vinci goes well, and that both you and she are able to heal from the wounds suffered at Atkinson. Peace.

    • @casper, I do appreciate your kind words, but my issues with her are really only the tip of the iceberg. She also terminated several much loved, long term staffers (because they stood up against her), igniting outrage among parents across the board. Another staffer chose to retire earlier than she had originally planned, just to get away from her. To this day she bullies a teacher who routinely wins awards and top ten lists.

      We organized and had our own blog for a reason—and I wasn’t the one who even started the group against her. So yeah, most Atkinson families DO hate her, as did mine. You might even notice there’s another poster on here, disucssing her behavior (though admittedly less vehemently). To give you an even stronger sense: while she was at Arleta, a family moved (sadly for them into the Atkinson district) just to get their kids away from her.

      @JjB, we have soooooo complained to the district—I only wish we had done more, as these awesome Buckman parents are currently doing, to resist her complete horribleness.

      • Z –
        Complaining is one thing – documenting it with multi-witnesses of specific events/incounters and if possible audio-video is totally different. I know, we complained about “this” and “that” …. but when we started documenting it, suddenly that became a totally different ‘ball game’ .. it had very dramatic cause/effect for the parents. Also you have the power of VOTE …

  57. Yet another bunch of gibbering, PC bureaucrats disregarding the desires of the many in order to appease the few. Whether or not a student may be “offended” by a Halloween costume is irrelevant, because NO ONE here has the RIGHT to NOT be offended! This is a fact that seems to elude the Victim Demographic, and those who pander to it.

    • I think we should take a Volcan belief:

      The needs of the many out weight the needs of the few, or the one.

      But I still go back to this, IF you want this Halloween back, you have to start taking some tough stands, to take the Public Schools back, from the Unions (yes Unions) and the Government and give it back to the ones who actually pay the bills – WE THE PEOPLE.

      Now the Unions won’t like this, because they loose their CONTROL – The government wont like it, because they loose their control.

      See? It’s all about control – The Unions and Gov, want you to believe – THEY ARE IN CONTROL and there is NOTHING you can do about it.

      If you believe that – then except your roll as a sheeple and step in line and assume the role of “you should be seen but not heard”.

      You have a choice to make, challenge is – are you strong enough to stand?

  58. Political correctness is censorship. They want to control what we say, how we think, and what we do. In America, freedom of speech and freedom of expression used to be a right, not a slogan. I think it’s time that we remind our public officials who they work for.

  59. I have to say times have certainly changed from when I was a kid! The way my daughter’s elementary school has handled it seems to work though. Granted it is not called a Halloween celebration , costumes are worn for something called Character Parade that happens to fall right around Halloween yearly. The kids and staff dress as a favorite character from a book… this promotes the reading (education) side of things and lets the kids wear the costumes cuz trust me they will find a book that matches their costumes and the school has a Fall Festival every year that has enough candy to make any little trick or treater go in to a sugar coma! The kids love it & the parents are cool with it. Costumes range from jus ta few accessories to full blown Party City get ups. The kids & staff get really into it so it’s a win win situation.

    • Faye, thank you for your comment. My apologies for taking so long to reply. I LOVE the idea of a Character Parade. A nearby school has wonderful model for this event, which I’ve heard has been cherished by the neighborhood for years. What a thrill it would be to implement something like this at our school. It might be a fantastic middle ground. (A few of our teachers will be teaching the history of Halloween in their classrooms, which covers some of the cultural elements of the holiday – I was very pleased to learn this!). Right now it’s most important for us to keep the peace at our school, but perhaps a Character Parade will be considered for next year. Thanks again!

  60. This is what happens when government takes over everything…sick of it! Schools have gone to crap! we need to fight back!
    RON PAUL 2012!

  61. Really, when you think about it, by eliminating Halloween celebration
    the last 2 years (and each year a new reason given, plus, a flat out
    lie that no one complained last year, in his propaganda release), the
    principal has declared Halloween celebration a religious event, a Satanic
    celebration. You analyze the reasons across the country the various
    principals they give, they are all half-baked, and pretty much laughed at.

  62. Wanted to add part of the culture war seems to be controlling the
    language. Harvest day vs halloween. The principal seems to want or
    stand for the homogenization of culture – sort of like monoculture,
    get rid of the diverse seeds, make all the tomatoes taste bland. What
    made America great was diversity, it is upside down to say it is due
    to a diverse student body you need to stamp out mainstream culture.
    This is really giving our kids a sense of cultural shame about a secular
    holiday. A secular celebration is a cultural glue. Schools transmit
    culture and the culture transmitted by this ban is intolerance.

  63. Pingback: Cancelling Halloween in Schools is PC BULLSHIT!!! | SkullBunnie

  64. I thought the P.C. people were supposed to be the big champions of multiculturalism and diversity. Where is the exposure to diversity, in an arts school of all places, if this celebration is removed from school? The principal of Buckman claims that celebrating Halloween could be offensive to some. Well, I’m offended that the children won’t be given an opportunity in an arts school to creatively express themselves.

  65. “The schools just seem to be pre-military camps
    now for children.”

    “Just another Distraction”

    “School takes 13 years, because that is how long it takes to break a child’s spirit”. Martin Luther King, Jr.

  66. “The War on Kids” … Documentary. (thewaronkids.com)

  67. Liberty: Freedom from Government control or coercion.

  68. “The Bellamy Salute” …. Google.

  69. Just my two cents worth but I say dress em’ up and send em’ to school. go get them if you need to. Political correctness has gone over the edge. When did American stop celebrating being Americans? OUR culture and heritage. Why is theirs more important than ours? If we’re going to ‘blend’ then we should celebrate them all, no matter where you are from.

    • In an email sent today, the principal stated that a “School Resource Officer” will be at school to deal with kids who wear costumes. šŸ˜¦ Do. Not. Want.

      • Hey, who’s your regional adminstrator? Time to start complaining—that’s seriously excessive. I’d also just call Carole Smith’s office and start bitching—you’ll get her secretary, but enough of it and they’ll hopefully mkae him walk it back.

  70. Thank you to everyone who has participated in this discussion. I’ll let you know what happens on Halloween.

  71. Should be more worried about all the yelling and belittling coming from adults in the school. (please open your eyes)
    Halloween should be the least of a schools worries.

    • AGREED. There are a few awesome teachers but then some really terrible ones who should not be allowed to work with kids. Too bad there aren’t hidden cameras to catch them in action. Hmmmm, anyone know of a pro bono PI? haha

  72. I totally agree!! This is the wossification of America and it makes me sick!!! I almost feel like telling the school we ARE witches and dressing up is an integral part of our “religion”! We are actually christians and LOVE halloween for its creativity and self expression. But then using my son to fight something I don’t agree with isn’t necessarily fair. I really hate what is happening with this country!

  73. Hi. I am not a SPAM! I just smell that way sometimes. I liked what you wrote here and on your comment so I followed you home to your link.
    That sounds way creepier than it is…!
    As a former Teacher of an After-school program, I say that losing this ONE DAY of fun for kids is a tragedy. I STILL remember the Halloween school days from 45 years ago! They have taken away recess, games, art, music and ANYTHING that might foster CREATIVITY (very important survival tool for Real Life) and a SENSE of HUMOR (Extremely important survival tool for coping with Real Life problems). Please visit me too! I’ll put the kettle on.
    http://www.bigglescandoit.com (Biggles can do it!) Thanks! dEbO

    • Astor School in North Portland had a wonderful Halloween parade that was a huge hit with the school, kids and communities. It was tied into Grandparents and Special Friends day..nice to see some administrators still have a mind that is not controlled by the PC Police and mentality that goes along with it.

  74. They’re basically insulting their own students & faculty by saying that none of them have enough imagination, motivation or intelligence to create a simple mask out of paper & glue. Or maybe the people in charge of the school ought to be re-educated….

  75. Everything about this decision reveals that the school is being run by undereducated, unqualified dolts. If they’re worried some kids can’t afford costumes, show them how to make their own using school supplies. If they’re worried Halloween will distract the kids from their education, educate them with a Halloween theme to keep them interested. (Teach them the history of Halloween and how varies cultures across time have celebrated this time.) If they’re worried that celebrating Halloween promotes one religion over another, they need to quit their jobs and go back to school. Why is this being treated by the school as though it’s some sort of “sensitive issue”?? Religion isn’t new. Halloween isn’t new. It’s all been around for thousands of years and it hasn’t been an issue until these morons decided to make it into one. It’s about as intelligent as saying there won’t be a Summer Break this year because some students’ families can’t afford to go anywhere for a vacation, and because some people are offended by the observation of any particular time of the year.

    The public school system is crumbling under the weight of government while being strangled by bureaucratically politically correct imbeciles who somehow managed to get hired into positions of control.

    It’s just ridiculous.

    I hope parents of children at this school chose to either defy this decision and send them to school in full costume, or boycott the school by keeping their kids at home today.

    • We still have Thanksgiving and Christmas…it should be interesting. More good teaching situations; let’s see how the principal approaches these holidays.

  76. It was tea party types in the school that said that Halloween was too distracting and got it banned, get your facts straight. (it’s all about the $$ and control)

  77. “AGREED. There are a few awesome teachers ” , I didn’t write “teachers” I wrote “adults”.

  78. So, umm, where’s the update? I know of a few classrooms that had parties anyway and there was no prob.

    My kid’s class will have a party next week. Also heard that NOT ONE SINGLE PARENT ACTUALLY WENT AND TALKED TO MR. ANDERSON about this.

    People, if you have issues, go talk to your principal. Make something happen. Be productive members of our school. Posting on the internet is easy. Get off your butt and actually MAKE SOMETHING HAPPEN for the kids.

  79. Halloween fun Night !

    I SAY FUCK TODAY’S Parents are becoming more fucking jerks parents today are why overboard strict i think all parents should now be on Stress Medicine ! halloween is be fun holiday not keep kids from like in jail Cellular ! i say fuck ever parent now on Earth !

  80. Pingback: Should schools ban Halloween costumes, celebrations? – OregonLive.com (blog) | ADT Testing Site

  81. Awesome issues here. I’m very glad to look your post. Thank you so much and I’m taking a look forward to touch
    you. Will you kindly drop me a mail?

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