Letters to the Editor December 8

Political correctness in elementary school?

How amazing ... Bellview Elementary School's principal in Ashland caves in to a faceless, tiny, tiny minority, who objected to a "giving" Christmas tree, and chose to ignore more than "100 Bellview parents, who are upset by the decision to remove the tree." This certainly created an extraordinary divisive atmosphere (so much for the Christmas spirit, eh Scrooge?).

Isn't this simply another episode of the tyranny by a small, determined band of "politically correct" social police?

Frankly, until these and other objecting parents follow the ACLU's approach — using lawyers and legal threats to enforce their will on society — these insensitive episodes will continue, Ashland or not.

Dennis Powers


Shame on Bellview Elementary principal

Shame on the principal at Bellview School in Ashland for removing the school's Christmas tree. Five complaints and that warrants removal of the tree? You have to be kidding. Let me ask, if there are five complaints about the principal, is that grounds for removal? If she is so offended and at the same time so threatened by the actions of a few, she needs to consider the majority and act appropriately. If she is afraid to deal with so few, then she is in the wrong business.

We no longer call the season Christmas because it offends some, so we call it winter break or holiday break. Give those of us a break who still feel that this country was founded based on religious freedoms, and let's get back to calling it Christmas. We don't need to be afraid of whose feelings we might hurt. There are much more important issues in our life's to worry about: unemployment, the economy, the war, etc.

Jody Streetman


Giving tree is a symbol of charity

I am amazed that one idiosyncratic local family has created a situation where a project focused on helping our family human beings, i.e. community generosity, has become a negative thing. The Bellview principal's response to the family's request should have been: "The display is not religious in any regard — no crosses, no crescent flags, no hint of religion in any aspect — it is a simple display about charity. The Druids of ancient England used the evergreen tree as a symbol of life and giving since before 3500 B.C. (pardon me, B.C.E.). Request denied!"

The "three or four families" cited by the principal is a suspect number at best. But even if a true statement, I argue that those offended by the innocuous tree display are perhaps less than 3 percent of our local community; as such, they can either "suffer in silence" or they can find themselves a place to live that does not bother their sensitivities. I remind them that the United States was founded as a Christian nation with our freedoms, and especially with freedom of religion, as principle rights. We do not compromise their rights to worship as they choose, nor are they free to compromise our rights therein. That is what freedom means!

The giving tree display is simply a symbol of our charity. Making it otherwise, and making us bow in acquiescence to their request to remove it, is disgustingly short-sighted. Even worse, it is wrong!

Tom O'Rourke


Decorating a tree is an ancient tradition

Decorating an evergreen tree is millenniums older than Christianity. This tradition was strong in old Europe at the winter solstice. It was believed that the sun retreated farther and farther from the earth. By placing candles on the evergreens, the sun could be enticed to return, hence the big celebration at that time of the year. The solstice is the shortest day of the year; after that the days grow longer. If you lived in cold, gloomy Europe with no central heat or electric lights, you would gladly celebrate the sun's journey back to summer. This tradition was so ingrained in the culture that it was carried over into the Christian celebration, when Europeans were converted. A borrowed tradition should be recognized as that and not offend any non-Christians.

Frances Petschek


Tree an opportunity to make a difference

Principal Zundel removed the Bellview giving tree because some families felt it was a religious symbol and it offended them. The children somehow felt less welcome at their own school. Is she serious? Did they really say that? Maybe they need to be home schooled.

The giving tree was an opportunity for the students and their families to make a difference in the lives of the less fortunate.

Because of this complaint, Ms. Zundel has taken it upon herself to ban virtually everything that symbolizes anything. Maybe she needs to go the way of the giving tree.

Denyse Horsburgh


Tree or the names?

Was it the tree or the names? Is it possible that these families felt they might be considered some of the needy?

Bev Jones


Public schools are a laughingstock

The decision of Bellview Elementary School Principal Michelle Zundel to remove the Christmas tree from the school is yet another reason public schools are often a laughingstock among thinking people in our country. I hope that someday, when she looks back at her decision, she will see how preposterous it was. Why is it that public school administrators have become so fearful and politically correct that they actually make decisions that run counter to the ideals of our Constitution and education in general?

About 10 years ago, I came close to getting my administrator's credentials, but decided not to for a very good reason: I loved teaching too much. Many administrators I know are figuratively castrated, running in fear from parents, teachers, students and the school board.

However, there are examples of excellent principals and superintendents out there. I cherish those women and men, because they are few and far between. The silly decision Zundel made reveals that she is certainly not one of those good administrators. After reversing her decision, the best thing she could do is resign her position and get back into teaching, something I bet she was pretty good at. She should go where she is gifted.

I have a son who is a sophomore at Southern Oregon University. Zundel has provided him with the perfect example of what is wrong with public education in the United States. Sadly, I've known too many principals who were pushed by one wind or another into making similarly stupid decisions. Can you imagine how fetid the world would be if we all made decisions like Zundel's? Thank God for freedom of the press. (Oops ... I used the word "God!")

Don Anderson


Giving tree decision should be overruled

Two letters printed in Saturday's edition of the Tidings were right on point.

A giving tree requesting gifts for needy children is a wonderful idea and a thoughtful program. It should not be discontinued. The absurd decision to remove the tree is a sad commentary on where PC thinking is hurting this nation. The Bellview school principal should be overruled by either the school superintendent or the school board.

Frank Hill


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