Superintendent Who Removed ‘Jingle Bells’ From School Claims It ‘Wasn’t Liberalism Gone Amok’
- January 3, 2022
- / The Daily Wire
- / News
The superintendent behind the ban of “Jingle Bells” in school curriculum has claimed the decision to remove the song due to possible racist origins wasn’t a case of “liberalism gone amok.”
Brighton Central School District Superintendent Kevin McGowan defended the decision to remove the song in a statement Wednesday, adding that the move was not “cancel culture at its finest.”
“It may seem silly to some, but the fact that ‘Jingle Bells’ was first performed in minstrel shows where white actors performed in blackface does actually matter when it comes to questions of what we use as material in school,” McGowan said, according to the Washington Examiner. “I’m glad that our staff paused when learning of this, reflected, and decided to use different material to accomplish the same objective in class.”
McGowan added that since Jingle Bells is tied to Christmas and therefore associated with a religious holiday, it “was not likely a song that we would have wanted as part of the school curriculum in the first place. Our staff found that their simple objective could be accomplished by singing any one of many songs in class and therefore they chose to simply choose other songs.”
“Nobody has said you shouldn’t sing ‘Jingle Bells’ or ever in any way suggested that to your children. I can assure you that this situation is not an attempt to push an agenda,” McGowan said. “If many, many songs are available to accomplish the same objective, then why wouldn’t we use those songs? I think our teachers answered that question very thoughtfully and I’m proud of their work.”
As The Daily Wire reported, the song was replaced because of research from Kyna Hamill, director of Boston University’s Core Curriculum, who claimed the first public performance of Jingle Bells may have been at a minstrel show. Hamill, however, condemned the school’s decision to remove the song while citing her work.
“I am actually quite shocked the school would remove the song from the repertoire. … I, in no way, recommended that it stopped being sung by children,” Hamill said.
“My article tried to tell the story of the first performance of the song, I do not connect this to the popular Christmas tradition of singing the song now,” Hamill continued. “The very fact of (‘Jingle Bells’) popularity has to do (with) the very catchy melody of the song, and not to be only understood in terms of its origins in the minstrel tradition. … I would say it should very much be sung and enjoyed, and perhaps discussed.”
After Hamill objected, Allison Rioux, Brighton Central School District assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, claimed the school district used a different reason to replace the song.
“Some suggest that the use of collars on slaves with bells to send an alert that they were running away is connected to the origin of the song Jingle Bells,” Rioux wrote. “While we are not taking a stance to whether that is true or not, we do feel strongly that this line of thinking is not in agreement with our district beliefs to value all cultures and experiences of our students.”
Hamill again responded to the school district’s claims.
“The use of bells on enslaved peoples may be true, but there is no connection to the song that I have discovered in my research,” Hamill said. “Perhaps finding a well-referenced source for this claim might be in order if that is what (school officials) want to determine as the cause for not singing it.”
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