A dozen elementary school teachers in Idaho are facing severe criticism for having dressed as Mexicans and the border wall for Halloween, with many complaining that the costume is racist and does not represent the values that teachers should be giving their students. Yesterday, photos of the controversial costume was posted on Middleton School District’s Facebook page with the caption:“It was a great day to be a Heights Hawk! We celebrated our RESPECT character winners, single and double marathon runners.”
One photo showed half of the teachers dressed in stereotypically offensive ‘Mexican’ outfits, including sombreros, ponchos, and mustaches; while the other half of the teachers were dressed as the nonexistent border wall which had the message “Make America Great Again” written across it in red, white, and blue letters. The post was eventually deleted but not after many people started to complain about the bigoted nature of the costume, including Elizabeth Almanza, a member of immigrant advocacy group PODER (Protecting our Dreams and Empowering Resilience) of Idaho.
“These photos are extremely disheartening,” Almanza wrote in a Facebook post. “ALL children should have the right to a learning environment that celebrates all backgrounds. Imagine how some of the students felt when they walked into their classrooms on Halloween and saw their teachers (people they look up to) dressed like this? This is NOT funny. This is heartbreaking. Students deserve better.”
Another day, another racist costume. This is from Middletown School District in Idaho. Please call (208) 585-3027 to say
1) racism is unacceptable
2) they are creating and promoting a hostile learning environment to children
3) what is their plan to make it right? pic.twitter.com/DqUwvP3ROL
— unholy heidi (@heidiheilig) November 2, 2018
Dr. Josh Middleton, the district’s superintendent, addressed the photos in a Facebook Live video, claiming he only became aware of the costume after a parent contacted him. In the video, Middleton offered his “sincerest and deepest apologies” and said the teachers planned the costume without the school’s knowledge.
“I was shown those photos and [was] deeply troubled by the decision by our staff members to wear those costumes that are clearly insensitive and inappropriate,” Middleton said. “Do I think there was a malicious intent in this poor decision? No, I don’t. Was there a poor judgment involved? Absolutely.”
As of now, no teachers have been suspended or fired but Middleton has said that the district is currently investigating the photos.
“We are better than this. We embrace all students,” Middleton added. “We have a responsibility to teach and reach all students, period.”