Kansas City School Head Issues Guidelines on Christmas Observance

The Kansas City School system, for the first time, has issued a detailed set of guidelines for Christmas and Chanukah programming in the area’s public schools. The guidelines, distributed by the Superintendent of Schools to teachers and principals throughout the district, are based largely on a booklet entitled “Religion in the Public Schools” which has been in circulation since 1964 without any appreciable effect on holiday programing in the public schools, the Kansas City Jewish Chronicle reported.

The booklet was originally published by the Associated of School Administrators to bring public school holiday observances in line with the United States Supreme Court’s rulings on the issue. It was suggested as a source work to the Kansas City school system by an advisory group representing a variety of religious and community viewpoints. The guidelines that resulted from discussions between the advisory group and school officials incorporate much of the material originally published in 1964. For example, they state that bringing in a Jewish religious program to balance the Christmas theme “simply equates two inappropriate acts.” The guidelines also warn, as the booklet did, that “altars, crosses, nativity pageants” as well as the symbols of other religions “do not belong in a public school.”

“The booklet from which many of the suggestions were taken has been in circulation for five years and, as far as can be determined, has had little or not visible effect upon those public schools in the Missouri or Kansas systems that have been checked in recent years,” the Chronicle said. Nevertheless, it added, “despite the frustrating experiences of the past few years, it is our belief that the newly published suggestions of the advisory group, difficult though they may be to implement, are a step in the right direction.”

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