Happy Valentine’s Day, unless that offends you…

There shall be no perforated cardstock exchanged today at Salemwood Elementary School in Malden, Massachusetts: the school has banned Valentine’s Day in the interest of cultural equality:

David DeRuosi, superintendent of Malden Public Schools, defended the principal’s decision – explaining that with new residents and new mandates “certain traditions we have to modify and adapt.”

Where's My Valentine?If you’re scoring at home, that means they are sending and receiving Valentines anyway.  That’s even more ridiculous than the idea of cancelling Valentine’s Day altogether.  They’re doing all the same stuff, just calling it something else.  It’s a lot of motion but no progress.

There are four really ridiculous points here:

1.  Cultural Equality through NO CULTURE FOR ANYONE

The administration at Salemwood has a tough task, and no doubt they try their best to deal with a diverse student body.  Still, how does one arrive at the conclusion that the best way to be multi-cultural is to be non-cultural?  The best way to include outsiders isn’t to eliminate customs; inclusion means including them.

This is an American cultural holiday, even if it has its roots in a religious celebration.  This is about large corporations influencing buying decisions through heavy media inundation, and there is nothing more American than that.  If you’re new to the nation, this is a good lesson.

In the interest of the good ol’ American melting pot, it’s also a good idea to reach out to parents and ask the ones who may be able to do so to buy an extra pack of Valentine cards in case someone in the class doesn’t have the extra scratch to buy those precious perforated cards.  And of course, such transactions need to be on the down-low.

Also with inclusion in mind, teachers aren’t out of line to send every student home with a full list of his or her classmates, so that he or she can sit there the night before and write out all their names on those cards.  This mode of torture will ensure that every child gets a card, and that every child practices their penmanship.

2. Valentine’s Day cancelled.  EDUCATION CRISIS SOLVED!

The whole episode conjures the mental image of a principal or any other educational official, struck with insomnia  staring at the ceiling of his or her bedroom.  Nationally, our school are struggling, math and science scores are through the floor, and any improvement will have to come on a shoestring budget.

Which problem to address first?  Apparently, holidays are the major impediment to learning, and must be restrained.  The answer to why our students aren’t keeping up?  They must feel uncomfortable in the classroom.

(By the way, who is more uncomfortable at school than the nerds?  And they get awesome grades.)

Truthfully, these folks may sit around for six days out of the week thinking of brilliant new ways to get kids to suck less at math, and we’d never hear about it because the national media wouldn’t cover it.  (And if they did cover it, no one would  retweet it.)  With that grain of salt taken, this is one of the ideas from a brainstorming session that ought to be swiped off the white board as quickly as possible.

And note that Valentine’s Day is not being eliminated so that the students can spend more time doing multiplication tables.  Actually, if you talk to the principal, it isn’t being eliminated at all…

3.  Wait, they aren’t using this extra time to learn more?

How is Salemwood using all the time saved by passing out Valentine’s Cards?

[Principal Carol] Keenan said they were not cancelling Valentine’s Day. Instead, the elementary school is going to celebrate a modified version.

“Every student is making a friendship card for another student,” she said. “I wanted to make sure that every single student is given the opportunity to get a card and to also give a card. I didn’t want some students feeling left out.”

So it’s just a rebranding deal?  It sounds like Salemwood is in cahoots with Carlton Cards, trying to cut into a Hallmark Holiday.

It isn’t clear how much though, effort, and study went into trading out Valentines for Friendship Cards, but it was too much.  Cancellation of classroom celebrations in favor of more time doing multiplication tables might sound less fun, but at least there would be a clear rationale.

4. Watch your language!

The most disturbing aspect of Salemwood’s reasoning?

Keenan also addressed the language barrier – noting there are 400 students in the school who don’t speak English.

She feared they “wouldn’t understand the concept of having to bring a card or get a card.”

Read that again: There are 400 kids in the school who don’t speak English.  That’s not just a big hurdle to communicating with their peers, it’s a potentially huge impediment to finding a well-paying job and establishing a successful life in this country.

Cancelling or rebranding the concept of Valentine’s Day doesn’t help these students, but devoting some time to teach them English probably would.