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  1. #1
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    NYC: 2 Muslim holy days on school calendar

    New York City Adds 2 Muslim Holy Days to Public School Calendar (NYT)

    New York will become the nation’s first major metropolis to close its public schools in observance of the two most sacred Muslim holy days, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Wednesday, a watershed moment for a group that has endured suspicion and hostility since the Sept. 11 attacks.

    Several municipalities across the country — including in Massachusetts, Michigan and New Jersey — have moved in recent years to include the holy days, Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, in their school calendars. But New York City, with its 1.1 million schoolchildren, dwarfs the others in its size and symbolism.
    ---

  2. #2
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    I strongly disagree with this. No religions should be recognized above any other on a public school calendar. The schools should remain open, and parents retain the right to keep their kids out to observe religious holidays, just as they always have. Staff who observe a holy day can take personal time off, with advance notice.

    Does the NYC public school calendar also close school for Christian holidays? Jewish? Russian Orthodox? Wicca? etc.

    Our district has removed all references to religious holidays on the schedule. We have summer break, winter break, and spring break. Seasons are now the only culturally acceptable thing to "recognize" in public schools, because there are many competing religions and cultures. If parents want a religious education and religious observances for their children, they should seek out a religious private school, IMO.

    This is pandering to voters, and an attempt to appear "inclusive" and "politically correct", IMO. Ridiculous.

  3. #3
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    According to the NYC public school online calendar they are closed for Rosh Hashanah and Spring and Winter breaks are scheduled to overlap various Jewish and Christian holidays.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by K_Z View Post
    Does the NYC public school calendar also close school for Christian holidays? Jewish? Russian Orthodox? Wicca? etc.
    Most school calendars remain Christian centered. In a larger area, the calendars are Jewish-Christian based. As Islam is a growing religion in the country, it makes sense to discuss and include some of the higher holidays.

    In reality, winter break is done for Christmas. We can say all we want that it is not based on Christmas but it is.

    Many school spring breaks include Good Friday and Easter. Yes, the NYC public school calendar takes off for Rosh Hashanah, Passover, Good Friday. Rosh Hashanah, Passover and Yom Kippur are taken when it falls during the week. They do not do Hannukah. I tend to agree that it is reasonable to do none and give excused absences for students and teachers.

    I don't think it is pandering to voters but rather creating an inclusive school environment. Again, if we exclude all holidays including Christmas then we can go for an exclusion based culture.

    Imagine kids going to school on December 25th with some students and teachers excused? Another thought here is that when you have a non-included holiday in a diverse area, would you have a critical mass of kids attending school or are the students at school marking time?
    Last edited by kaen; 03-05-2015 at 12:13 PM.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by K_Z View Post

    Our district has removed all references to religious holidays on the schedule. We have summer break, winter break, and spring break.
    If your district takes off between December 23 and January 2, I humbly submit that while it may be called winter break, it is observance of Christmas. I can think of no district that would go to school until December 28th and go back in session on January 10th which could be seen as observing Orthodox Christmas (January 6th) and New Years. In reality, having a solid month of December before heavy winter snows hit in the northeast could be very good for continuity of learning. Taking ten days in January would include prime time of bad winter weather and allow for heating oil savings at the coldest time.

    Removing a holiday and retitling is not taking away from the fact that the holiday exists within the framework that the school is working with. Removing the holiday makes an excuse for why other religious holidays are not included.

  6. #6
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    I agree that closing during the harsh months of winter in northern climates would be sensible, on a number of levels.

    So you have to ask, why do we have 5 year old kindergartners walking many blocks to school in below zero temperatures in December, January, and February (and March and November, lol!) in some areas of the country? Because the school calendar is based on an agrarian culture where the "kids" were needed on the farm to help during the growing months. Very few kids (absent cultures like the Amish and Mennonite) are needed nowadays to plow fields in June, July, and August, virtually none of them in NYC-- yet the sacred cow of the summer break persists. (Fueled in part by businesses and resorts who need seasonal high school and college kids, and teachers on break. And people who just enjoy summer and vacations.) So let's put kids in school in summer months, to save heating costs, right? Safer weather for the kids, etc. But the sacred cow of summer break is not going away. Winter break won't either-- and it marks the end of the semester grading system.

    IMO, we need to remove religion and religious based planning from public school calendars. If the school is a "ghost town" on a religious holiday dominant in the area, so be it. The schools should be open for the OTHER kids who are not observant of that particular religion. That is what is inclusive about public education-- or what SHOULD be inclusive. It should be a parent decision to keep a child out for a religious holiday, not a school board decision. School board members are not charged with accommodating every religious preference and holy day into the schedule. They are sorely misguided by even trying, IMO. This is a good example of "mission creep." Especially in a city as diverse as NYC. And they are definitely pandering to voters, with this decision, IMO. The school board has lost sight of what their role is, IMO.

    Our district tried eliminating spring break 2 or 3 years ago, for a number of very sound reasons. Oh-- the uproar! And the next year, there it was, back on the schedule. Go figure!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mission_creep

    Mission creep is the expansion of a project or mission beyond its original goals, often after initial successes.[1] Mission creep is usually considered undesirable due to the dangerous path of each success breeding more ambitious attempts, only stopping when a final, often catastrophic, failure occurs.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by kaen View Post
    I don't think it is pandering to voters but rather creating an inclusive school environment. Again, if we exclude all holidays including Christmas then we can go for an exclusion based culture.
    Respectfully snipped. Actually, I see this in the complete opposite way. By closing public school to observe one specific religious holiday, the students who do not observe that holiday are excluded. Excluded from the opportunity to go to school and learn, and "forced" to observe a religious holiday they don't celebrate.

    So where does it end? Do we close school for all of Ramadan? Or just eid? Should we close school for Dia de los muertos? Winter solstice? All Fridays, since Islam has special prayers on Fridays? All of Passover? All days of Hannaukah? All of Lent? No, that's not reasonable. After a while of this kind of "inclusion", it'll be hard to find 170-180 days everyone can "agree" on for a public school calendar.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by K_Z View Post
    I strongly disagree with this. No religions should be recognized above any other on a public school calendar. The schools should remain open, and parents retain the right to keep their kids out to observe religious holidays, just as they always have. Staff who observe a holy day can take personal time off, with advance notice.

    Does the NYC public school calendar also close school for Christian holidays? Jewish? Russian Orthodox? Wicca? etc.

    Our district has removed all references to religious holidays on the schedule. We have summer break, winter break, and spring break. Seasons are now the only culturally acceptable thing to "recognize" in public schools, because there are many competing religions and cultures. If parents want a religious education and religious observances for their children, they should seek out a religious private school, IMO.

    This is pandering to voters, and an attempt to appear "inclusive" and "politically correct", IMO. Ridiculous.
    School calendars are pretty much exclusively planned around the Christian calendar. So, if we are striving to really separate church and state, we should have no breaks around Christmas, Easter, Good Friday, Epiphany, etc. Shoot. Let's make the weekend Wednesday through Friday...since it was originally created to give people the day to worship on the lord's day.

    So yeah...let's not pretend that Christians aren't catered to. I say this being one, by the way.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by K_Z View Post

    Does the NYC public school calendar also close school for Christian holidays? Jewish? Russian Orthodox? Wicca? etc.

    This is pandering to voters, and an attempt to appear "inclusive" and "politically correct", IMO. Ridiculous.
    Are you kidding? 99.99% of public schools in the US close for Christmas (even if they call it "Winter Break"). A substantial number close for Good Friday (some including it in their "Spring Break," and others just closing outright on that day regardless of where it falls on the calendar).

    The majority of districts still serve fish sticks on Fridays, a throwback to Catholic meatless Fridays.

    The Christian majority is so accustomed to being pandered to that it fails to see how they have been accommodated to (I count myself in this majority BTW).

    Closing schools concurrent with a religious holiday should be a practical matter. If a majority of students (and/or teachers) will be absent for religious reasons on a particular day, it makes sense to arrange the calendar around it.

    As far as what gets mentioned on the school calendar, again, think practically. If school will be open during holidays when a substantial number of students are likely to be out for religious reasons then it should get mention on the calendar so that teachers and others can plan accordingly. Further, most comprehensive social studies curricula recognize the important roles of world religions at various points in history. All court decisions regarding the establishment clause of the Constitution have drawn a distinction between learning ABOUT religion and proselytizing. When approached from a historical and cultural point of view, there ought be little problem (Constitutionally speaking, anyway). However, I have seen a good many rants from people claiming Christianity who get their noses out of joint at any recognition of the role of Islam in world history.

  10. #10
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    If we want to talk about the best kind of learning cycle, I would submit that and 8 week cycle with a week off in between is optimal for schools. As a school administrator, I struggle with all of the interruptions that occur. That said, if we keep winter break and spring break, I believe it is important to include the higher ranked holy days of the major religions. In NYC, there are many Jews an Muslims in the system so honoring those holidays is important.

    This topic comes down to opinion and what one experienced. There are rising Christ based religions that do not celebrate Christmas. The dialogue will need to continue.


  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by K_Z View Post
    Respectfully snipped. Actually, I see this in the complete opposite way. By closing public school to observe one specific religious holiday, the students who do not observe that holiday are excluded. Excluded from the opportunity to go to school and learn, and "forced" to observe a religious holiday they don't celebrate.

    So where does it end? Do we close school for all of Ramadan? Or just eid? Should we close school for Dia de los muertos? Winter solstice? All Fridays, since Islam has special prayers on Fridays? All of Passover? All days of Hannaukah? All of Lent? No, that's not reasonable. After a while of this kind of "inclusion", it'll be hard to find 170-180 days everyone can "agree" on for a public school calendar.
    Many students leave school a bit early for Friday prayers and Shabbat already. The issue is with the high holy days rather than days of fasting or non-requirement of service attendance. You wouldn't close for Ramadan-- as you break the fast at night. Dia de los Muertos is not a religious holiday although it is tied to the Christian calendar. Passover is an evening celebration that begins at sundown-- most people do not attend temple services. Hanukkah is not a temple based celebration either.

    One way to buy back days is to take off for December 25th, close regular on the 24th and reopen on the 26th. We would gain anywhere between 6 and 9 days each year.......... Or, we can agree that the system is already Christo-centric. And ,even though it might be a little uncomfortable, when a populous of a religion is on the rise we can honor their rites by honoring their holy days and recognize that it might mean a little more June school time.

    A whole other discussion is the topic of continuity when there are many holidays that stack together like Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah, and others falling in the month of September, requiring that it is not possible to have a full week of school.

  12. #12
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    As a parent of middle school child in NY....I agree with the above poster that there are far too many interruptions during the school year. For me, religion is a personal matter., as are holidays and observances. If a certain holiday is NOT observed on the district calendar and it is one we observe, my child will miss school. That is how we have raised all our kids. IMO
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  13. #13
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    Thanks, everyone, for the responses. Much appreciated.

  14. #14
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    On a personal note, I went to a junior/senior high that was nearly 50% Jewish. It was like a ghost town on the Jewish holidays (which is not to blame Jewish students or their parents). We might as well have all stayed home on those days because all teachers knew any material they presented would have to be re-presented in the days after the Jewish holidays.

    I'm all for a school calendar that ignores holy days. (We could argue about Christmas since it was become so secular that even many Jews and atheists celebrate it.) But my personal experience suggests that choosing secular holidays doesn't necessarily solve the problem of high absenteeism on holy days.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Goose22 View Post
    According to the NYC public school online calendar they are closed for Rosh Hashanah and Spring and Winter breaks are scheduled to overlap various Jewish and Christian holidays.
    If I'm understanding this right, they have spring and winter breaks because the school system can't admit these days are for Easter and Christmas even though they overlap Christian holidays? What are they calling the days the schools will be closed for Muslim holidays?



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