The hits just keep on coming!

The most recent assault on Life-As-We-Know-It was the unilateral decision by Monona Grove School District administrators to cancel Halloween.

No more jack-o-lanterns, ghosts, witches, black cats. No more kids wearing their costumes to school, then parading through the senior center. No more classroom parties.

The announcement triggered a cascade of responses: A single post on the Facebook page Moms of Monona Grove garnered almost 500 comments.

Some were from disappointed parents who hate to see a harmless tradition end. If the problem was children unable to afford costumes, these moms said, they’d be happy to donate and organize a costume exchange.

Others saw the move as part of the education establishment’s endless obeisance to the twin gods of equity and inclusion, and questioned how canceling an event enjoyed by so many would make anyone happy.

Many asked why the district would make such an arbitrary move without consulting parents. A few said if ending Halloween festivities meant student scores would rise, that would be OK – except there’s little evidence of progress on the academic front.

Some were from teachers who defended the move. One said she didn’t become a teacher to throw parties for children. Another said that if even one child felt offended or excluded by Halloween festivities, ending it was the right thing to do.

And at least one said that Halloween was a hold-over: the last holiday “celebrated” in the public schools. Holidays should be “observed” but not “celebrated.”

This saddens me. It is, as some parents observed, an assault on American culture.

Just to review: The United States is the only country in the world that was founded on an idea. That idea was freedom, including religious freedom. But by banishing all aspects of religion from the public square, we diminish our shared heritage.

Our holidays used to celebrate our culture by creating traditions. No more.

Columbus Day is out because Native Americans objected. That’s understandable from their point of view, but it requires ignoring an event that transformed the entire world.

Veterans Day is out because it celebrates war. (Well, it doesn’t really, but defending your country is such an old-fashioned idea these days.)

Thanksgiving is morphing into Thankful Day, minus the Pilgrims and Indians celebrating a treaty, minus even Presidents Washington and Lincoln. Just be grateful for a four-day weekend and call it good.

Christmas? Fuggedaboudit. Way too Christian. Santa Claus and Rudolph are OK in moderation, as long as Kwanzaa and Hanukkah get equal mention. Mostly, it’s just about winter.

Martin Luther King Day is still allowed, but Valentine’s Day is on the chopping block: too many chances some kid will be excluded and get hurt feelings.

St. Patrick’s Day? Too Irish and too Catholic.

Easter? Yes to bunnies and eggs, but no mention of Jesus (him again?) or crucifixion or the promise of eternal life.

Mother’s Day is still OK, but Memorial Day? Remembering who, exactly? (See Veterans Day, above.)

Thank goodness the Fourth of July doesn’t fall during the school year!

Even Labor Day gets short shrift, although you would think the teachers union would be all over that.

Instead, the schools have made-up holidays: 100th Day. Pi Day. Dr. Seuss Day. What piffle.

My second thought is that if some people are offended because our U.S. holidays don’t fit their culture, tough luck.

We no longer force people to come here from other countries. The vast majority of those who do are happy to be here and eager to participate in American culture – including holidays.

And if any American moves to a foreign country and expects those nations to be sensitive to his or her cultural needs as an American – well, good luck with that.

My third thought: We are not doing children any favors when we coddle them, protect them from failure and bend to their every hurt feeling. There are no participation trophies in the “real world.”

Didn’t get as many Valentines as another kid? I’m sorry: Try being nicer from now on.

Your Halloween costume wasn’t as cool as another kid’s? That’s too bad: Let’s think up a better costume for next year.

Your parents can’t afford to buy you a prom dress? Let’s see how we can fix that so you can go to prom anyway.

Finally, the MG School District needs to quit genuflecting at the altar of Political Correctness. This arrogant, “Because We Say So!” move has a lot of parents questioning whether the district cares about them – except at referendum time.

Got something Sunny Schubert should know? Call her at 222-1604 or e-mail

(3) comments


Thank you for a great article and for sharing most of our points of views!


“We no longer force people to come here from other countries” - can you please clarify what you’re referring to here?


I grew up in a small town, where there was virtually no diversity. Back in the late 70s and early 80s in most of the satellite towns in the Fox Valley had single elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools, and nearly all the children were white. Not only that, in my particular town of Dutch heritage, nearly all the children were Catholic. It was easy to celebrate everything uniformly because everyone was uniform. Almost all the families belonged to the same Catholic parish. They all had the same religion classes on Wednesday night. They all looked the same. Most of our fathers worked at the same paper mill. The difference in family income was negligible. Many of us were directly related to fifty percent of the town and shared common great-great grandparents. There were no "different tradtions" or "alternative cultures." But that's not the way the world is any more: Monona Grove School District is not uniform; children come from a wide variety of social, economic, and cultural backgrounds. To expect that we will be able to cling hard-headed to traditions that (let's face it) have very little to do with the education of children, especially ones that might be divisive, exclusive, or possibly offensive, seems insensitive at best, and downright disrespectful at worst. And let's not be hyperbolic: no one "cancelled halloween" in Monona or Cottage Grove. The school district simply stopped any official sponsorship of schoolday activities that revolve around the holiday. Kids can still dress in their most amazing costumes and trick-or-treat to their heart's content. But the all day distraction of trying to keep hold of a learning environment when the student population is enthralled in their facepaint, costumes, and props? Is that really so terrible to miss? I'm not sure it is, frankly. This article seems mean-spirited to me. Dress your kids up and take them trick-or-treating. Take all the photos you want. Teachers: make lesson plans about the origins of Halloween in the Celtic festival of Samhain, and learn about how it's been observed through the history of American culture. None of that requires that any family "buy in" to the modern (completely commercialized) Halloween experience, and it gives frame-of-reference to put the holiday in context. Then get your best zombie makeup and shamble through the streets in search of candy if you want. No one is stopping us.

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