Parents are absolutely up in arms over the Stamford Board of Education (BOE) decision to remove Columbus Day and Veterans Day from the school's holiday calendar after the motion was raised by Republican Josh Esses, who serves as Fiscal Chair & Parliamentarian on the BOE.
Esses' motion passed in a 5-3 vote, though BOE president Jackie Heftman was notably absent.
Board members Andy George, Dr. Becky Hamman and Michael Larobina voted against the measure.
Most Americans are proud of our country’s founding, grateful for the countless brave veterans who have fought to protect our Republic, and want to show proper respect on these important days.
Stamford Parents can't understand how our own country's history would not be celebrated or revered by the public school. Especially when other religious holidays, like Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan, or the second day of Rosh Hashanah, are still being celebrated as holidays in the district.
"Every school holiday is a distraction to learning and harms student achievement," said Mr Esses.
"I moved to return five days to the classroom: Eid, the second day of Rosh Hashanah, Juneteenth, Columbus Day, and Veterans Day. Unfortunately, the BOE only agreed on two of those days," he continued.
Esses' support for eliminating Columbus Day and Veterans Day drew sharp criticism from fellow Republicans who were appalled by the change, and suggested it's just another example of how U.S. history is being watered down and distorted by progressive activists.
"Eliminating holidays that honor our country's founding and the incredible Veterans who fought to protect it is something that a socialist would do. How could Josh do that? Isn't he supposed to represent Republicans? Because I don't know a single REAL Republican who would ever recommend a policy to stop honoring veterans," said one Stamford Republican.
According to Dr. Hamman, a current Stamford BOE member and Connecticut educator, it is clear that not all BOE members are well grounded in US history or the knowledge of what it took to create America.
Details behind the Columbus and Veteran’s Day removal vote actually started last year.
Knowing there was tension when creating the 2024-25 and 2025-26 school calendars, a districtwide committee met and conducted a survey last fall. The well-represented calendar committee included all of the holidays that Mr. Esses wanted to eliminate.
Although there was debate at the Labor Committee (1/9/24), committee members seemed content with the calendars presented at that time. Mr. Esses, who is on the Labor Committee, took advantage of some of the debate on Tuesday (1/23/24), believing that clearing the calendar of two federal holidays of his choice (Columbus Day and Veterans Day) would make more room for learning.
Sadly, he blindsided his two Republican colleagues with this move.
Debate at the January 9th meeting was concerning, but not surprising knowing that the DEI (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion) executive order was signed at the federal level by President Biden in 2021:
If Mr. Esses had his way on Tuesday, Dr. Hamman says he could have started a holy war with his second motion, which was to remove Juneteenth, the second day of Rosh Hashanah, and Eid al-Fitr, as holidays.
"Luckily this didn’t happen," Dr. Hamman said.
"It is clear the Stamford BOE is no longer representing all of Stamford. There will be an uproar and it is not healthy for the community," says Dr. Hamman.
But don't worry, say some parents who are telling the Centinal that "real Americans" don't care about the school's "stupid" anti-American decision about the calendar.
They will keep their children home, and celebrate those holidays together in their own special way, and encourage other parents to do the same.
If enough parents follow suit, it could certainly put a wrench into teaching plans on those days.