Pam Costa, the directory of elementary schools and programs for the San Juan school district in Sacramento on why school parents were sent a letter FORBIDDING any costumes or body decorations or anything related to Halloween:

“How does dressing up in a costume at Halloween have anything to do with a child’s learning reading or math or language arts?”

Great Pam, might as well cancel the music, arts, and physical education programs as well.

Educating young children involves more than just the ‘Three Rs.”

But then Pam Costa says this “The primary focus of the school is to educate kids, and sometimes other activities take away from what we are really supposed to be doing.”

Sorry kids, recess has just been eliminated.

It all depends on how narrowly you define “education”. Apparently, learning about, enjoying, and having fun with a major American holiday and significant part of American culture is not something worth “educating” kids about.

Pam, how well are you doing educating the children entrusted in your care? According to a Winter 2004 press release issued by the San Juan school district students are demonstrating “strong” performance gains in math. Sounds good, but what are the details? More than 50 percent of the students now meet state standards!

Yikes. California state standards are bad enough, and about half of Pam Costa’s young kids fail to meet minimal educational standards in math. What about other areas? The San Juan Unified School District admits that it “is concerned with the declines in specific subject areas such as earth science, world history, and mathematics.” So math is up and down. I guess it depends on which kids you selectively focus on.

OK, things were bad in late 2004, but how about now, a year later? According to a September 21, 2005, story in the Sacramento Bee “Bucking the statewide trend, San Juan Unified saw a drop in its number of program improvement schools – from nine last year to seven this year.” Oops, from bad to worse.

Pam, here’s a tip: make learning fun. Spending a couple hours making pumpkin drawings, showing off costumes, and having fun will not jeopardize any of your kids chances of going to Harvard.

Halloween at Public Schools
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