It tapped the wrath of Christians around the world who inundated Seattle Public Schools with emails last week furious about a teacher who refused to call colorful eggs "Easter eggs," but insisted they be called "spring spheres." Not only an affront to fundies ignorant that decorated eggs predate Jesus by thousands of years, the politically-correct term also concerned liberals who thought educators couldn't distinguish a sphere from an ovoid.
"It’s a good story," says Stephanie Klein, an editor for the KIRO affiliated MyNorthwest.com, who wrote up the article that went viral.
And it is a great story—if it's true.
"We haven’t been able to verify that it happened," says Seattle Public Schools spokeswoman Teresa Wippel. She says district officials contacted all 88 schools in Seattle last week, asking if any employee could confirm or deny the "spring sphere" story. "Generally when we put out some question, we usually do get some kind of confirmation from people. But it has been silence so far."
The story originated with KIRO FM's Dori Monson, a right-wing radio show host, when he interviewed a 16-year-old girl last week. On the show, Jessica, whose last name was withheld, said she has been volunteering for a third-grade class at a school that is never identified with a teacher who is never named. "At the end of the week I had an idea to fill little plastic eggs with treats and jelly beans and other candy, but I was kind of unsure how the teacher would feel about that," Jessica said on the show. "She said that I could do it as long as I called this treat 'spring spheres.' I couldn't call them Easter eggs."
On the phone today, Klein said the girl's father had first contacted Monson with the idea, and the girl identified the school “off the record” but "she just didn’t want to make it public." Asked if there was any way to identity the school or verify the story, Klein suggested I email Monson, who hasn't returned an email this afternoon.
"It’s something we are all paying attention to," says Klein, citing Christmas trees called "holiday trees" and other nonreligious holiday lexicon. She says, "I guess Easter is next." Klein says she "got a lot of flack" for not naming the school or the people involved.
Among the emails sent to school officials: "IF IT WERENT FOR CHRISTIANS THERE WOULD BE NO SEATTLE, NO VACATION TIME FOR YOUR CRAZY SELVES.... ITS CHRISTMAS, EASTER, AND ALL THE OTHER CHRISTIAN HOLIDAYS, OR GET YOUR BUTS TO WORK ON THOSE DAYS INSTEAD." [Uh, sic]
But school district policy from 1983 says that "no religious belief or non-belief should be promoted" by its employees. In the district's defense, Wippel says people believed Seattle schools are "somehow to blame for denigrating Christianity in some way," adding, “We can't respond to that because we don’t even know if it happened. I would love to tell you I was able to verify it, because then we could put it to rest on way or the other."