Did I get your attention?
It certainly got my attention when I saw it on the news.
What are your thoughts?
Here are mine:
*Yes, there are families who cannot afford the expensive elaborate costumes bought in retail stores, but it wasn't that long ago that kids MADE their own costumes with the help of their parents and stuff found around the house. I've been both a hippie and a gypsy using clothing belonging to people in my house. Today using what's in my and my husbands closets I could be a Superhero (thanks to my husbands tshirt collection), a 50's housewife thanks to a round skirt and a string of white beads, a bride thanks to my wedding dress (although I wouldn't wear it to school), a lumberjack thanks to a winter toque and my husbands plaid shirts, a witch thanks to a black dress and black construction paper to make a hat (although mom still has the hat I used in high school, so that's much easier), a sleepwalker thanks to jammies slippers and a housecoat, and a music fan thanks to a band tshirt. It doesn't have to be elaborate!
You can also MAKE your own costume: use aluminum foil to make your self into a robot, a cardboard box to make a TV or computer, or a bag of trash using a garbage bag.
*As for the students left out due to cultural or religious convictions, I do understand. The last school I worked at all my students were Muslim, so we didn't celebrate a single holiday all year, at least not any Christian ones. However, in public schools, parents should expect their children to be surrounded by and learn about culture, not just the Christian one.
*Also, Halloween parties need not be a whole day affair, they certainly weren't in the schools I attended in the 80's. We changed into our costumes at lunch at home, and the very last hour of the day was our party, which was basically a costume parade and treats. Students who do not celebrate can still take part in looking at the costumes and eating the treats, or they could be dismissed an hour early depending on the parents preferences. Going to a separate room for the party puts a stigma on a student when their is only one excluded, but if there are many, they could definitely have their own "Celebration" which could be overseen by a gym, music, art or resource teacher. Perhaps they could could even spend the time preparing a special presentation for Remembrance/Veterans day?
*I have heard of a few schools that have forbidden scary costumes and requested that all students wear HAPPY costumes or even dress as characters from books. I believe a fall festival of that sort would be a better alternative for many students currently left out. Although I know for some people even dressing up is not allowed, no matter what the reason.
*There really is no way to please everyone, and I don't believe its fair to expect the Christian cultural majority to give up our holidays to appease the smaller growing non-Christian minority. Yes, we should and do respect their cultures, but they need to do the same. Their families can help the schools come up with ways to be more inclusive, maybe by helping to teach the classes/schools about a part of their beliefs which the students would find interesting.