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-Mike Keefe






Don't stifle creativity

Feb. 21, 2001 - Not only do Boulder school officials owe one astute third-grader an apology, they need to get with the program and stop stifling creativity, learning and First Amendment rights to freedom of speech.

Learning about race issues, especially during Black History month, is a responsibility of the school. Boulder had a unique opportunity to take a student-generated idea and run with it, teaching its students about history, social science, good citizenship and race relations.

Instead, Mesa Elementary School officials preferred to pull an 8-yearold girl's science project from display because they believed her study was not appropriate for the science fair.

The child, whose name is being withheld at the request of her father, conducted a study in which she presented a white Barbie doll and a black Barbie and asked a number of people which they preferred. A majority of the children in her test classes picked the white doll.

What an intuitive and original idea for a third-grade student, who is white and attends a school that is nearly all white. What a great opportunity for the school to examine perceptions in relation to skin color.

Like the girl's father said, the study doesn't mean that the students are racists. It does, however, bring awareness about how we are all susceptible to conditioning that leads some to believe one race is more attractive or better than another.

It's an opportunity missed, but not lost. Boulder can revive this issue in its schools and some thoughtful discussion and learning can still take place.

By yanking the girl's project, Boulder is sending a message that this is too heavy a topic to discuss in its elementary schools, or maybe it just doesn't want to admit that there is a problem in "politically correct" Boulder.

If those reasons are anywhere near the truth, that is too bad because it's obvious that Boulder's students are ripe and open for such discussions.

Where would we be now if all such studies were stifled? In the litigation leading to the landmark U.S. Supreme Court desegregation ruling of Brown vs. the Board of Education, a study about the negative effects of continued segregation on blacks was disregarded by some. All of this leads us to wonder about how much has actually changed in 46 years.

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This editorial represents the official opinion of The Denver Post as decided by the newspaper's editorial board.

The members of the editorial board are William Dean Singleton, chairman and publisher; Glenn Guzzo, editor; Sue O'Brien, editorial page editor; Bob Ewegen, deputy editorial page editor; Peter G. Chronis, Angela Cortez, Al Knight, Penelope Purdy and Billie Stanton, editorial writers; Mike Keefe, cartoonist; Barbara Ellis, Peggy McKay, news editors.

Copyright 2001 The Denver Post. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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