New York City to Add Muslim Holidays to Public School Schedule

New York City to Add Muslim Holidays to Public School Schedule March 4, 2015

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio. Photo courtesy of wikimedia commons
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio. Photo courtesy of wikimedia commons

“We no longer have to choose between our education and our faith!” — tweet

I woke up today to see that #EidInNYC was trending in Twitter? Why? Because New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the addition of the two Muslim Eid holidays to the public school schedule. Says this CBS local article:

Schools will now close for Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, making New York City the largest school district in the nation to recognize the two holidays on the official school calendar.

“We are committed to having a school calendar that reflects and honors the extraordinary diversity of our students,” said Farina.

De Blasio said the change means that Muslim families won’t be forced to choose between observing the holidays and sending their kids to school.

The announcement was made at PS/IS 30 in Brooklyn, where officials said 36 percent of students were absent the last time Eid al-Adha fell on a school day.

“We’re here today to make good on a promise to our Muslim brothers and sisters that a holiday of supreme importance to the Muslim community will be recognized in our school calendar so that children can honor the holiday without missing school,” he said.

I can’t tell you how thrilling it is to read this — very happy for the Muslim community of New York City.  Back in November, I reported on the failure of Montgomery County, Maryland, to add the Eid holidays to it’s public school calendar (not give the days off, mind you, but just add them on the calendar). Instead doing that (after months of petitioning from the local Muslim community there), the school board decided to remove Christmas, Rosh Hashanah, Easter, Yom Kippur and any other religious holidays off the calendar (still giving those days off, but just not listing any religious holiday on the school calendar). You know, to make it all even stevens.

When creating a public school calendar, obviously careful consideration has to be given to which days students and teachers get off, especially when it comes to religious holidays. In our politcally-correct world, Christmas break becomes winter break and Easter break becomes spring break. And — rightly so — school districts argue that unless there is a consistent high percentage of absenteeism on a particular religious holiday, they can’t make it a school holiday.

This was the case in New York City, where officials said 36 percent of students were absent on the last Eid al Adha holiday (which fell during the school year). So bravo New York City. Well done, Mayor de Blasio. Let’s not view this as just a victory for Muslims, but as a victory for religious fairness and freedom in America.

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