The question of what Christmas means to you was asked of a second grade class in Taunton, MA and they were asked to draw a picture as part of that assignment.
Now when asked that question people will answer a lot of different things. Presents, Santa, family, giving, trees and decorations, and so on. And of course many will point out that Christmas and most other holidays celebrated at this time of year are also religious in nature. Regardless of whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Pagan Winter Solstice or something else most tie back to religious beliefs. So when asked what Christmas means is it all that shocking to find out an 8 year old child of Christian faith drew a picture of Christ?
That image lead to the eight year old Maxham Elementary School in hot water causing him not only to be suspended but the school demanded an evaluation from a psychiatrist before being allowed back into the school, which the parents of this child had to cover with their own money.
What has happened to our society that drawing a picture of a religious figure leads teachers to demand an evaluation of someone's mental well being? Have we really sunk that low that what this school is putting this family through is acceptable?
Of course this isn't the first sign of over reaction at this school.
In April of this year students were sent home because the found that the school had asbestos insulation. While that may sound shocking at first take, many older buildings have some form of asbestos in them. Merrimack, NH for instance has been undertaking the long process of abatement over the past few years but still has large quantities in nearly all of its school buildings. As long as it isn't damaged and has fibers escaping into the air it's not something to panic over.
A ten year old child was suspended and faced criminal charges back in June of 2008 over a stick figure drawing he made of himself with a gun shooting another stick figure of his teacher. While in this case even the child's mother agrees the picture was inappropriate she questions why the school chose to file charges against the boy rather then attempt to handle it through administration. While the DA had enough sense to decline to press charges, this case has now lead to the mother filing a lawsuit against the school district. The question I have is what charges would have been filed in the first place? Drawing a picture?
Perhaps some of the officials are the ones needing an evaluation.