Conservatives freak out after school cancels fifth-graders’ ‘Christmas Carol’ play to focus on exams
Centerville Elementary School in Pennsylvania cancelled its performance of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” and conservatives are freaking out — but they’re kind of confused about what’s going on, according to the Friendly Atheist.
The story, written by Dickens in 1843, is one of an extreme gap in wealth and industry, one of social stratification and capitalism. It’s not one inherently or overtly framed through the lens of Christianity.
It’s a story where Tiny Tim utters the line “God bless us, everyone,” leading conservative media like Breitbart, Fox, and the Blaze to jump to the conclusion that the school’s traditional reenactment of the story was cancelled for that reason.
According to reports from ABC27, two parents did complain about the line, but that’s not why the annual performance was cancelled.
Shannon Zimmerman, a district spokeswoman said, “It’s not a part of the written curriculum of fifth grade, but students and teachers were required to participate in it and we can’t allow that to continue.” That’s not because of Tiny Tim.
In a message that was sent out to parents of Centerville Elementary School, Principal Tom Kramer wrote that this year’s cancellation was — more than anything else — due to a lack of preparation time because it was taking up to 20 hours to produce.
Over the years, preparations had evolved to take 15 to 20 hours of instructional (educational) time to produce this play. Given changes in state standards in recent years, we could not defend the commitment of this kind of instructional time to something not part of the fifth grade curriculum.
The teachers agreed that they did not want our students to be put at a disadvantage relative to their peers from other schools in preparation for 6th grade; therefore, the play was cancelled. In addition to focusing on high quality instruction, our decision is rooted in the desire to be respectful of the many cultural and religious backgrounds represented by the students attending Centerville Elementary.
One rumor we’ve been addressing is that one or two families influenced this decision. That’s just not true. The instructional time issue was our primary concern. Alternative solutions were explored for offering the play differently, including the use of non-core instructional time, but it was decided by the building team to not go down this path. We also looked at having rehearsals after school hours, but, at this time, parents nor staff members have stepped forward to take advantage of this possibility.
See below for more.