Sunday, October 31, 2004

The Kid, The Costume, And School Administration

Kids' View
I teach in a junior high school. Our school has two grades, 7 and 8. Like most schools, (see exceptions in previous Announcements) many kids choose to wear their Halloween costumes to school.

This year, a child came dressed as Hitler. Somewhere, he had obtained a dark brown dress jacket, khaki pants, and even had a red swastika-emblazoned armband. Naturally, there was a little mustache.

He is in my last class of the day.

At the end of the day, after dismissal, I called him aside and asked him, "Did any of your other 6 teachers say anything to you about your costume?"

With a look of surprise, the kid remarked, "No."

Do you know what Hitler did?

The student answered, "He killed a lot of people."

After sending the child home, I had time to reflect upon the situation. Usually, during the days before Halloween, the school's bulletin will request that kids refrain from wearing costumes that involve "hate groups." The bulletin always mentioned Hitler and the Ku Klux Klan by name.

This year, the school's new principal (and his two new assistant principals) failed to provide any guidelines for the kids (and their parents) to follow. The school's administration has become very hierarchical, and is very conscious of its exalted "status." It doesn't ask for teachers' opinions.

To them, we are, "Just teachers."

So who's at fault when "Hitler" showed up? The parents, the kid, the teachers, the school's administration, or some combination of all four?