Longtime childhood traditions went up against a school district’s efforts to increase equity this week. Eugene’s Bethel School District got an earful from parents and former students who object to the district’s move away from celebrating holidays, including Valentine’s Day.
Monday night’s school board meeting got canceled after it was disrupted by shouting parents. The district held another meeting Thursday, attended by 200 people, most of whom spoke out against the change. District spokesman Pat McGillivray, says the idea is to increase equity and diversity. In a district where 56 percent of students are low-income, getting Valentines and candy for the whole class is not possible. But that’s not the only reason some kids feel left out of classroom holiday parties.
”Some of it is about religious beliefs. Some of it is about a child’s ability to regulate themselves in that kind of atmosphere. It’s not just about the money and that’s what some people have gotten hooked on. It’s about the money, we’ll pay for ‘em, let’s make it happen. I’m telling you, it’s not just about that.”
McGillivray says Bethel Schools are not the only district trying a different approach to holidays.