There was a time, not long ago, when the most horrifying thing in New Jersey was the Giants’ offensive line.
But now, at least in one Garden State school district, it’s Halloween.
Yes, that glorious fall day when pint-sized humans come to school dressed in princess gowns, superhero capes or zombie rags and are permitted to freebase a Nestlé sampler bag.
Earlier this month, Dr. Ronald G. Taylor, the superintendent of the South Orange-Maplewood School District, sent a letter home informing parents that he is a killjoy.
Or, more specifically, that Halloween would not be celebrated in schools this year.
Banned during school hours. No parades, no costumes, no candy, no trick or treat. But this administration can go and smell my feet. (That’s polite Jerseyan for “go scratch”).
The reason for wiping this super fun, very secular holiday off the school calendar? Diversity, equity and inclusion. The higher-ups are trying to not ostracize kids who don’t celebrate Halloween because of religious reasons or those who simply can’t afford elaborate costumes.
The aim, according to Taylor’s letter is, is to foster “diversity, equity, and inclusion meaningfully.”
Meangingfully. Not not meaningfully, alright? These are not empty buzzwords meant to placate some nonsensical DEI standards — they swear.
And when you really mean it, that means canceling one of the days of the year that kids actually like coming to school.
Even Gov. Phil Murphy, who has given us some eye-rolling moments regarding parental rights of late, recognized the sheer insanity.
“Seriously? We can’t let kids celebrate Halloween?” he tweeted. “Give me a break.”
In making this controversial decision, Taylor said the district’s decision-makers asked themselves the following questions.
“Is promoting school-sponsored Halloween activities creating indirect and unintentional financial hardships for students and families? Do school-sponsored Halloween activities violate the dignity of some of our students and families, either culturally or religiously? Does the promotion of school-sponsored Halloween activities create tensions with the equity and access values [of the district]?”
I have another question. What are “access values”?
And what does that have to do with a childhood rite of passage that has endured for generations and generations of Americans?
Instead, Taylor said, some elementary schools will have something called a “Fall/Harvest Festival” — which will likely offend someone in the next five years.
“I know this may make some uncomfortable and elicit some challenges across our community,” he wrote. “However, in the end, I feel these recommendations align with SOMSD’s commitment to building equity.”
I thought this was to mitigate challenges.
And let’s talk about the concept of equity, which is about as realistic as the Great Pumpkin rising in the pumpkin patch.
The word, which has been plastered all over the mission statements of every well-intentioned organization, means not equality of opportunity, but equality of outcome — something that is simply impossible in the real world.
So what ends up happening? We cut down everyone, so they’re all at the bottom rung. Everyone suffers, instead of being encouraged to strive and acknowledge there are differences among us. What’s next? Cancel basketball season because not everyone can get the latest Nikes?
This prohibition also tells kids that society will wrap itself around their preferences, whims or deficiencies. Not the other way around.
We were once governed by a “majority rules” mentality. If you don’t celebrate, don’t dress up. If you can’t afford an elaborate costume, even better! Those fancy, professionally made ones are as lame as the Bit o’ Honey candy the old lady in the corner house gives out every year. DIY it!
Instead, this ban is now punishing the lot to suit a few.
A compromise: What if the kid goes as someone who understands what any of the DEI language means?
In recent years, Halloween has been made the bogeyman for all sorts of reasons. Back in 2021, East Lansing, Michigan, schools put the kibosh on Halloween over equity concerns. As early as 2015, some Connecticut schools ditched it because of religious reasons.
Meanwhile in Jersey, kids as young as first graders have a sex-ed curriculum that tackles gender identity. Parents have to opt-out if they don’t want their kid to participate. But a blanket cancellation of Halloween is appropriate?
Forget goblins and ghouls. The scariest costume this year, by far, is the DEI monster.