Tuesday, August 24, 2010

School District Adds Muslim, Hindu Holidays to School Year

What do you think about the additional religious school holidays?

On the first day of Ramadan we posted an article by a Christian nanny working for a Muslim family. Please click here to read that article.

Some of the comments left after posting the article discussed the controversy over a mosque proposed to be built in Manhattan. While some fear Muslim mosques being built, others are able to respect the needs of families practicing Islam in their communities.

For example, the South Brunswick, NJ school board has approved closing for the end of Ramadan and for the Muslim Feast of Sacrifice.

The board also recognized the Hindu new year, Diwali.

School board president Matthew Speesler says it was time. Speesler says some parents were upset that there were too many holidays already on the school calendar.

The New Jersey School Boards Association says 10 of the state's nearly 600 districts recognize Muslim holy days as official school holidays.

Click here to see entire article.

What do you think about the additional religious school holidays?

16 comments:

Fiona Littleton said...

Hooray and good for them! I actually think we shouldn't celebrate any religious holidays in PUBLIC schools. State and religion are supposed to be separate.

But the fact remains most public schools have off Christian holidays and celebrate Christian holidays anyway.

Since we are free to practice any religion we choose in America, if we learn about one religion in public school then we must learn about all religions in public school.

If a school district has Muslim and Hindu students it's only right to respect their holidays as we do Christian and Judiac holidays already.

I suppose in the MidWest this wouldn't be an issue if all families are Christian. But here in NY it's vital.

Anonymous said...

To be fair schools should only recognize national holidays and do away with all the other religious holidays. But at the same time not penalize students for being absent for their religious observances.

AuPairDebbie said...

If the school district has Muslims and Hindus then of course they should allow time off for these holdiays. Otherwise, waste of time. But, Federal and state laws prohibit schools from penalizing students for missing school on religious holidays.

Tara said...

Fiona, I'm not sure where you got the idea that in the Midwest all families are Christian.

I think you might be surprised the diversity outside of NY. NY hardly holds the patent on diversity!

More than 20 years ago, in my midwestern (Michigan) school district, I challenged the school board (as a high school student) on this very topic. It arose from the district policy that mentioning Santa, Christmas, etc...even bringing cards for friends to school...could result in suspension. Yet, our "holiday" programs were full of Jewish songs. I loved the Jewish songs...but I felt like students of any religious background should feel free to share that with their friends. Not in a worship "I'm right, you're wrong" way, but in a "I want to understand your beliefs...explain them to me" way.

Just in my own circle of friends we had Catholic, other Christian, Sikh, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, Atheist, and Wicca practiced.

I won that challenge...the district identified 17 major world religions represented in our school district (by more than a few families...they identified many more represented by only one or a few families each). The district calendar now notes each of the major observances for each religion. As well, the students at the high school were given one of the display cabinets to use for displaying educational information regarding their religion's holiday at the appropriate times. It has been pretty educational for everyone.

Recognition of diversity is important even outside of NY.

Anonymous said...

Why should we have to tolerate a religion that condones the killing of innocent people simply because they don't believe in their religion? Whose goal is to be the ONLY religion?!

Fiona Littleton said...

The comment from anonymous after Tara is way off base. It was extremists of the Taliban, not Muslims in general, that attacked the World Trade Centers. Not all Muslims should be treated as criminals. They are being harrassed despite being conservative, charitable, American loving people. Innocent Muslims died while in the World Trade Centers that day too. Plenty of Muslims fight for this country and love this country.

To Tara,
I didn't mean ALL midwest towns - obviously. We obviously agree!

Obviously not ALL midwestern towns are not diverse. Obviously even if they aren't diverse they can learn about all religions and races and cultures.

Still, there are many towns across America without much diversity. For example, the mother and father I work for were raised in small towns in Kansas. There are only Christian churches and only white people in their town and neighboring towns. For those small towns it wouldn't make sense to have off for Muslim or Hindu holidays since none of their students come from non-Christian families.

I strongly feel church and state should be separate. But as long as the students are learning about any religion they should still learn about all religions.

I didn't mean to generalize ALL midwest towns. I meant some.

If a school district doesn't have Muslims or Hindus there would simply be no need to have Ramadan or Diwali off from school. As Deb explained above, kids can't be penalized for missing school for religious observance anyway. So if one or two families in town celebrate a holiday that most other students don't they won't be penalized for missing those days.

Of course students even in small towns should learn about Islam and Hinduism if they are also being taught about other religions (Christianity and Judiasm) in their public school. Either learn them all or none at all.

We are in agreement that we need to learn about and respect other cultures and religions.

Anonymous said...

How about allotting floating holidays to each kid to two a year and if the kid is out from school for that holiday he has to bring a note from his parents?

Anonymous said...

But that's what we thought about those who flew the planes into the World Trace Centers. We thought they were just peaceful, American-loving, Muslims!

Buffi said...

What Fiona describes was exactly my childhood growing up in the Midwest. I know diversity exists in the midwest, but the most diversity I saw were Jehovah Witness children who left the room during the pledge or didn't play the Star Spangled Banner with the band. The area I lived had 100,000 people in it.

Fiona is right, a religion didn't attack us, extremism did.This is a ridiculous hate filled argument. Just as hate filled as saying all Catholics are pedophiles because of the actions of a few bad apples.

Eva said...

I am glad to read both sides of the argument proving that nannies are thoughtful and intelligent.

I was confused at first too. The argument exists because no one wants to offend families of those killed on 9/11.

I see what anoymous is saying about being scared and confused about knowing who is and who isn't dangerous. 9/11 criminals lived amoung us.

But Islam is the second most followed religion in the world. Billions of people are Islamic and only Christianity has more followers.

I've got to beleive if MOST Muslims were being taught and encouraged to kill we would have been annihilated by now.

If even one-tenth of all Muslims were taught to kill New York would have been annihilated. Christians, Jews, Hindus and U.S. cities would have been long gone by now.

Objections of mosques are based in fear so I don't want to attack people not in support of mosques. But I wish we could help you see there's simply nothing to fear.

Anonymous said...

One of the advantages of local school systems is that individual towns can make their own schedules based on their citizen's needs. Change is hard but if history shows us anything is that it will happen. Population shifts and so does it makeup. Accept it or move somewhere else.

Anonymous said...

Very few Islamic countries tolerate open worship by people of other faiths. There are no Christian churches in Saudi Arabia for example or in most Muslim countries. Building a church would not be tolerated in Islamic countries. I have very little sympathy for Muslims in the West who complain about constraints they feel on their ability to practice their religion. How would I feel in their country?
Jennifer

Steph 6 said...

OMG Jennifer we aren't a religious state. We cannot force anyone to practice any religion or not. We are founded on freedom of religion. Doesn't matter what happens in other countries, we are talking about here.

I think observance should depend on the percentage of students who would likely be absent on a given holiday. If such a large percentage would be absent, it would seem prudent to make the day a school holiday.

Tobago Nanny said...

I fully support the inclusion of these Muslim and Hindu holidays into the school calendar. Percentages of students makes sense too.

Anonymous said...

School probably shouldn't close on any religious holiday but instead people who practice those religions should be able to take the day off.

Michelle said...

Obviously if there are students that practice a religion the school MUST accomodate those students. Good for South Brunswick for closing for these holidays.