The moral case for separating school and state was made long ago. Still, the role that government played in micro-managing the holiday season in Americas public schools this year proved yet again the wisdom of this cause. In the December 20 Washington Times, readers got to glimpse another of the fiascoes which make up our government-run education system.
An increasing number of public schools nationwide are becoming no-Christmas zones this year in an effort by school officials to accommodate different cultures and not offend non-Christians, the report began. I feel obliged, so as not to test the limits of credibility, to quote the newspaper directly on these efforts, which could arise only under monopoly government control of our schools:
Several elementary teachers in Sacramento, Calif., said they had been banned from using the word Christmas in class, and a mother in San Diego was barred from reading a Christmas story to a fourth-grade class.
In New York, some school administrators asked teachers to limit holiday decorations to generic messages, such as Happy Holidays or Seasons Greetings, and some city schools barred Nativity displays . . . .
Meanwhile, music and band teachers in Maryland, Virginia and Michigan are not having students sing or play some carols, such as Silent Night and The First Noel . . . .
In the San Juan Unified School District in Sacramento, several first-grade teachers said they were told by the principal not to say Christmas at
school . . . .
Montgomery County [Maryland] Public Schools officials suggest that titles include such words as December and winter for concerts held during the holiday season.
This is the reductio ad absurdum of our public school system. Government schools are funded by taxes paid by everyone, so everyone gets a say in how theyre run. Naturally, this means that every disagreement that might possibly arise has the potential for becoming a full-scale political battle. As a result, even Christmas is now regulated by the local school bureaucracy.
What [public schools] need to do is develop a balance in the kind of [Christmas] songs they are teaching to children, said Wendy Wagenheim, communications director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan. No, what needs to be done is for the wishes of every family, regardless of their faith (or lack of faith), to be respected by removing the government from the education business, so that they may choose for themselves what balance of Christmas celebration will be taught to their children at school. What they dont need is for the ACLU or school officials to try to make that decision for them.
This isnt a problem of conflicting faiths or cultures, as many would have us believe. It is a problem manufactured and nurtured by the governments continued involvement in education.
The government solution is to take Christmas out of the Christmas season, apparently to make it, uh, a Christmas everyone could enjoy. It would be wiser to take the government out of the schools and out of Christmas so that people can send their children to schools that observe Christmas in a way more consistent with their own beliefs. The word has lost all meaning in our modern welfare-warfare-state society, but thats what is meant by Freedom.
Naughty or nice, separating school and state is a Christmas present we all deserved.