To appease Somali Muslims. Creep, creep. via St. Paul school pulls plug on marking holidays like Valentine’s, Christmas – StarTribune.com
Celebrations of Valentine’s Day and the other “dominant holidays” are ending at one St. Paul elementary school, according to a letter from the principal addressed to families.
Principal Scott Masini of Bruce Vento Elementary School, whose student body is overwhelmingly nonwhite, explained in the letter that “my personal feeling is we need to find a way to honor and engage in holidays that are inclusive of our student population.”
With Valentine’s Day a little more than two weeks away, Masini noted, “I have come to the difficult decision to discontinue the celebration of the dominant holidays until we can come to a better understanding of how the dominant view will suppress someone else’s view.”
Masini said there will be no cards or treats brought to school to mark Valentine’s Day.
The letter listed the holidays that the East Side school will no longer celebrate as Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Valentine’s Day. Masini said the decision was made in consultation with his staff.
“One of the concerns that I have,” Masini wrote, “ … is whether or not this practice is encroaching on the educational opportunities of others and threatening the culture of tolerance and respect for all.”
Scott Masini, principal at Bruce Vento Elementary School
Masini, who has been with the district for roughly 20 years and principal at Bruce Vento School since fall 2013, acknowledged that shelving these celebrations “will be an unpopular decision with some of you.” He said school administrators would be happy to discuss the decision with concerned parents.
“Because Saint Paul Public Schools is a diverse district that is filled with families from around the world we strive to respect all cultures and all students. We recognize that not every student celebrates or participates in some or all holidays. We have a board policy that discourages programs and festivities that celebrate observances unless they are required by law,” a statement from St. Paul schools later Thursday said.
The statement included comments from Masini: “I’m struggling with this and I don’t know what the right answer is. But, what I do know is celebrating some holidays and not others is not inclusive of all of the students we serve.”
The letter surfaced Wednesday evening on an invitation-only Facebook page titled “Supporting St. Paul Students and Teachers.” By daybreak Thursday, there were dozens of comments left on the page, which was started by parents in the district two years ago in connection with teacher contract talks.
“Very sad. All the fun is gone,” read one posting. “Totally ridiculous” and “Tired of the PC,” read two others.
It appears that attention to ethnic sensitivity has been a mission of Masini’s at the school. In May, a conservative education watchdog website posted a photo of a KKK hood that was displayed during a teacher training session. Below the image were the words: “When do you wear the hood?”
“ ‘The principal allegedly displayed the picture and asked the staff to sit in silence and reflect on it for 3 to 4 minutes,” according to EAGnews.org.
Masini’s e-mail response to the website read, “The hope was that by doing the activity … that we could change any practices at our school that were unfair to students. I also thought we were ready to take this deep dive into a difficult conversation on race, white privilege, and practices that don’t serve all students. The image that was provided to you was completely taken out of context.”
Shortly before taking over as principal at Bruce Vento School at the start of the 2013-14 school year, Masini said in a note to students, families and staff that “I am extremely passionate about continuing the work to achieve equity for all students.”
According to the latest state demographic data, the student body at Bruce Vento school is 52.3 percent Asian/Pacific Islander, 35.4 percent black, 6.9 percent Hispanic, 4.3 percent white and 1 percent American Indian/Alaskan Native. More than half the students are learning English as a second language, data show.