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Friday, December 19, 2008

flying with... well I just do not know WTF?

This news story is from my local paper. The Charleston SC Post and Courier....

Does anyone else see anything wrong with this story?

Black, white Santas draw some criticism

Principal cites diversity of student body

By Andy Paras (Contact)

The Post and Courier

Friday, December 19, 2008

Students at St. Stephen Elementary School found out last week that Santa Claus can have the same skin color as them.

That's because two Santa Clauses — one white, one black — were invited to the rural Berkeley County school at separate times last Friday to take pictures with students of the same skin color.
Principal Willa Norton's decision to invite two Santas has drawn criticism from a few parents and from two civil rights organizations, which said the school shouldn't have divided the students by race without asking parents first.

Marguerite Lyons, who found out about the two Santas while picking up her son outside the school Thursday, said dividing the children by race smacked of prejudice.
All the children should have seen one Santa, she said.

"I don't care if (Santa) was Chinese or Puerto Rican," said Lyons, who is black. "Everyone's the same."

Norton said everything was done to benefit a student population that is predominantly black and from low-income families. More than 97 percent qualify for free or reduced lunch, and 75 percent are black.

*(Note from Cookie! Why do you need to know, to understand the story, how many kids are free lunch kids???!)*

She said most of the children probably wouldn't have a chance to meet Santa otherwise, and she wanted to use the opportunity to let students know that the possibilities are endless.

"It was just an opportunity for my kids to be exposed to a Santa who looks like them," said Norton, who is black.

"I just want my kids to know that everyone can do all kinds of things."

*(Note from Cookie! Even grow up to be an imaginary Holiday figure! GREAT!)*

She said she even tried to find a Hispanic Santa for the handful of Hispanic children and an Asian Santa Claus for the school's one Asian child.

Parent Jay Paulin, who is black, said he liked that his daughter and the other children could talk and take pictures with a black Santa.

"It shows (Santa) can look like them too," Paulin said.

Norton said she told all of the 489 children that the Santas they met weren't the real Santa, just his helpers who agreed to take pictures while the real one prepared for Christmas.

Norton said she had received only one complaint from a parent who felt she should have been told about the different Santas. Other than that, everyone was happy with the pictures, especially the children.
"The kids were just happy," she said. "They were thrilled about being able to take a picture with Santa Claus. I could have been Santa and they would have been happy."

Dot Scott, president of the Charleston chapter of the NAACP, praised the principal's effort but found flaws in the execution.

Scott, who successfully rallied for a black Santa in the Charleston Christmas parade, said that if there is going to be more than one Santa, the parents should have a choice.

She said even some black children, who have been taught all of their lives by television that Santa is white, may have had a problem with going to a black Santa.

"I promise you, had you told the parents, you would have had some black parents take their kids to see a white Santa, but not one white parent would have taken their child to see a black Santa," Scott said.

Parent David Kirkland said the school should have just had one Santa. Kirkland, who is white, said he may not have liked it too much if that Santa was black, but it's up to what the kids want.
"As long as you keep the young ones happy, it doesn't really matter," he said.

Victoria Middleton, executive director of American Civil Liberties Union of South Carolina, said the school might have had the best intentions but, "We would question whether separating the children by race was really a good idea."

The Berkeley County School District took the same position. Pam Bailey, the district's public information director, said the district didn't know about the multiple Santas, but the administration is comfortable that the decision was made for all of the right reasons.

"Unfortunately, it was not communicated to the parents that there would be multiple Santas," Bailey said. "It's a lesson learned."

Norton, who grew up just down the street from the school, said she wants what is best for the kids. In her five years as principal the school has been a red carpet winner and is the Lowcountry's only NASA Explorer school.

She said she's already looking at doing things differently next year. She will either bring in multiple Santas next year or start an annual rotation of Santas. Either way, the parents will be notified.
Scott said it may seem like a difficult issue, but there are ways of making it work.
"Every step in that direction is a step forward," Scott said. "Keep trying and we'll get it right."

*(Note from Cookie: My head hurts to much to Aim High right now....)*

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