As a Muslim student having gone through the NYC public school system (K- 12) and having attended the CUNY system as well, I can attest that it was quite difficult not being able to take off on Eid day. Sometimes there were important lectures being held or tests that had to be taken and I had to choose between religion and education.The obvious fair solution here is to either allow for no religious holidays on the school calendar or allow students floating holidays. A experienced teacher (I would assume) has as a general idea on which religious days there tends to be many students out, and can plan according on those days (hold reviews, practice math, yipee!!). The issue comes down to being fair and having mutual respect.
jane, i ask: what do we do about all the muslim converts that are not immigrants? you're telling them to go home but they're as american as apple pie. actually, based on your comments, you need to leave the country because you are as un-american as it gets. i wish upon you guidance in every aspect and i wish your insecurities a grand disappearance. peace.
We close NYC public schools for Christmas Eve, Christmas day, and the entire week from Christmas to New Year's. We close for Good Friday--a day relevant to religious Christians, but not at all to secular New Yorkers with Christian backgrounds. We close for both days of Rosh Hashanah, for Yom Kippur, and for all 8 days of Passover. Given the large number of Muslim students in our schools and the growing number of Muslim employees, the New Yorkers who cry foul at the idea of closing for two days--the first day of Eid ul-Fitr and the first day of Eid ul-Adha--either haven't thought this through or are acting in bad faith. The issue is one of basic respect, nothing more.
What about a compromise? ONLY Civil holidays officially off. Every religious group representing at least 10% of a city's population gets to pick ONE DAY ... and those days may be same some years, or all diff some years, and all kids would have those particular days off.
On the other holidays, where missing quantities of children make normal classwork hard ... have a "special" curriculum, independent study, of the child's own choosing (developed by "contract" between each child, teacher, and parent at beginning of year, where all parties agree as to what is grade letter performance) ... and children in school work on that project that day. It could be related to science project, religious faith, some special need or interest of the child (but a physical something that could be worked on / researched by child) ... and is counted as part of the child's "Health" grade for the whole year.
If you did this, the child has something to do / think about whether or not they're in school ... and all kids would work at their own pace ... they learn something about long-term project managemnt, and something about the object of their research. The younger the child, the more short-term, goal-oriented (and staged) the project is. Any family that has the consciousness to keep their child home for a religious holiday ALSO HAS THE SMARTS and VALUES that child's education ... they're not 'lackadaisical' uninvolved parents. Thus this "special project" would be a family effort on the child's behalf.
It would be no additional work for the teacher -- because part of the project would be to teach the child (no matter how young) to self-grade their work. The report card would say "Special project on [something]" Completed with Grade X. If not done, the grade would simply be "M" missing.
And I don't know exacly how many Days off a school kid has today-- but I know it's a LOT MORE than I did.
More movable Religious holidays will result in At-Will Attendance. The Non-religious High School Kid doesn't care whether it's a Jewish or Muslim Holiday. He'll take BOTH sets off. Else, we'll have to start have children REGISTERING their religions to make sure that only Jewish kids take their days and only Muslim take their days. . .and we know that's a BAD road to go down.
Enough Holidays. The Teacher's job is hard enough as it is. And it is MORE important that ALL our children GRADUATE with an education that makes him/her fit for life as a competitive, working adult. Let him observe his religions on their own.
You are correct John P Falcone (#16) and there is the Free Exercise clause along with the Establishment Clause.An argument could be made that if tax payer funded compulsory public education does not allow for the free exercise of Muslims, but does for the free exercise of Jews and Christians in regards to observing holy days, that is de facto establishment. That is what was specifically prohibited by the 1st and reinforced by the 14th Amendment, if I remember correctly.
And Jane and John; initially, the First Amendment only applied to the federal government and not the states… the message was loud and clear in the states “NO JEWS”. Those Jews knew what they were in for when they came to Protestant America. Same for the Orthodox Christians and Catholics. Since you’re quick to trample over the First Amendment (the one allowing you to speak your mind), what other Amendments would you like to infuse your good Christian morals into? For Jane, maybe something to make sure women are kept in their place like the Bible says perhaps?
Once again a Muslim lobbyist is greatly overstating the number of Muslims in the community. Obama did this during the campaign and on his overseas apology tour. Of course, Barry thinks there are 57 states in the US. LOL.
That being said, Muslim and other religious holidays should be excused absences for any student or employee of a particular religion. After all, this is still America despite the current administration’s vicious attack on life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as well as freedom of speech, assembly and private property.
I have a simpler rule-- A Holiday is a Day where EVERYONE is out. The proposed muslim Holidays have the same flaw as Jewish Holidays. The People who practise that religion say it's holy-- But they expect EVERYONE ELSE to be at work to take care of their needs!
And yes, Hindus will argue for THEIR High Holies. And Asians have varying Holidays also. And for goodness sakes-- Teachers and Schools have enough to deal with as it is. You might as well throw a cement truck on the camel's back!
Remember: Catholic Schools PLAN around their Movable Holies. And the same for Jewish Private Schools. And this is because their student populations are self-selected.
Maybe Muslims should think more about establishing their OWN private schools for the same reason.
I'd like to know how many kids, how many teachers, and how many staff identify as "Christian," "Jewish" and "Muslim." (or for that matter, Hindu or other particular religious tradition)
We should be pragmatic. If the numbers are similar, the holidays should be granted. If too many holidays begin to crowd out instruction, then re-evaluate the whole policy.
The separation of church and state does not mean that the government should pretend religion does not exist. It means that no religious belief should be propagated or favored by the state. At the same time, a day off hardly propagates religion - it just recognizes that teaching half a classroom is a waste of time.
the reason we have holidays off is not because it's a breaking of the separation of church and state but simply because so many children are absent and some teachers take the days off too. people are entitled to their freedom of religion.
We are still essentially a Judeo-Christian society which the Muslims should have understood before they came to this country. If the Muslims don't like our system, then they should go home.
The real question is why do students need Jewish holy days off and Christian holy days off? Keep church in church and at home where it belongs. Let’s just stick to AMERICAN holidays off and let religions/cults snatch their children out of school whenever they want.First Amendment for all or nothing!
I teach English as a Second Language in Harlem, and I can not plan any important instruction for the Eids due to the very high rate of absence in my classes.
NYC DOE is not very sensitive to the needs of this population. A couple years ago, DOE had initially planned to administer the ELA on one of these major holidays and only changed it after an uproar.
America is a Judeo christian nation. Islam is not in keeping with American values
Why is a public school closed for religious holidays anyway? Why isn't this unconstitutional?
I think there should not be any religious holidays off in public schools BUT IF other religions are getting holidays offered in public schools then so too should the Muslim holidays be offered. BUT AGAIN there should not be any religious holidays celebrated in public schools. Followers of particular religions should just be allowed to take off on their respective holidays without any kind of retribution.
instead of closing schools for every religion minority why not have floating holidays. parent could have 2 days where they could keep the students at home. the schools could have reviews those days.
i teach in astoria and nearly half my class is absent on both eids (plus, my kids fast during ramadan and they have to sit in the cafeteria and watch all the other kids eat because we haven't got a system in place for where to place those children during lunch periods in ramadan). i end up not really teaching on those days when so many children are absent because too many kids would be absent. i do review instead. also, i think tony from san jose should try teaching for a year before he declares there should be no summer!
Pagan holidays now!
And remove all those religious holidays too.
We shouldn't close schools for any religious holiday.
When I was in elementary school in Los Angeles, the schools remained open on the high Jewish holidays but instead of having a typical day of full curricula, the students did extra-curricula activities, like art projects, etc. That way working parents weren't hurt by yet another school day closed, but the students who stayed home for religious reasons didn't miss out on a real academic day.
Don't we have too many holidays already? Ideally, summer should not be off and kids would get off at 6pm.
As long as and equal number Hindu Holidays are added to the public school calendar, knock yourself out. I think 2 Jewish, 2 Muslim and 2 Hindu holidays are fine.
The only other solution is to provide free days that the parents can use for religious holidays/atheist conventions, remove specific religious holidays from the calendar, and shorten the winter and summer break to make up for any additional days lost.
Register for your own account so you can vote on comments, save your favorites, and more.
Please stay on topic, be civil, and be brief.
Email addresses are never displayed, but they are required to confirm
your comments. Names are displayed with all comments. We reserve the
right to edit any comments posted on this site. Please read the
Comment Guidelines before
By leaving a comment, you agree to New York Public Radio's
It's your neighborhood, your city, your country, your world, and now your website. Brian Lehrer delves into the issues and links them to real life.