May 29, 2004

Taking off for Islamic Holidays

Little Green Footballs, which is one of my favorite political blogs, posted a piece on the closing of schools in some districts in NJ for Islamic holidays

This bothers me not at all. Either the schools should not close for any holiday, including Christmas etc. or they should accommodate the schools population (and of course those who are of minority religions should not be penalize for taking off. Accommodations should be made for them also, to make up work or take as test, in school, and during normal school hours.

What bothers me however is this part.

To fit the two holidays into the school calendar, officials reduced the number of days schools can take off for emergencies from six to four. That means if schools close for snow or other emergencies more than four days, the days would have to be made up during spring recess or on Saturdays in June, Nickles said.
Emphasis mine.

Saturday is the Sabbath for Jews, and this would seem to accommodate Muslims over other religions. Why did they pick Saturday and not Sunday? I realize this is only if extra days are needed, but still it seems one is depriving one group for the sake of another.

I guess it bugs me that they would not even think of making children come in on Sunday, even though most Non-Jews, even most religious Christians drive on Sunday, write on Sunday do on Sunday all the things that religious Jews do not do on the Sabbath. Of course, religious Jews, both teachers and students wouldn't come, but I worry that they may be penalized for not showing up, especially the teachers, either by having one of their personal days docked, or it may affect their pay etc.
Jews can't do.

If truth be known I favor of very different sort of school altogether; 7 day week with children taking off according to their own needs and wants.

But that is another post.

Just one little tag as to why I'm worried. Several years ago in NJ there was a possibility that the schools would have to be open on Saturday due to a greater than usual number of snowstorms that winter. My friend who was a teacher was very concerned as there were several strong hints by the school board that coming in was mandatory and excuse wouldn't be accepted.
I don't remember what exactly the nature of these hints were; it has been several years, but I definitely remember her being worried.

The other part is personal history. When I was in high school (I'm 46, you all can figure out the age range. Hint, I was in 9th or 10th grade), there was no such thing as time off for Jewish holidays. There was also less restrictions on proselytizing of students. One teacher took it open himself to hand out religious tracts to the students, announcing, unabashedly, that he wanted to convert the Jews. He did this twice, once I threw out the pamphlet, once I gave it to my mother. The other event was the teacher who announced that all the students would go home with extra work on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, because "all they did was stay up and celebrate so you can do the extra work" this, btw, was from a history teacher.

My father was forced to pray to Jesus. He didn't actually, he mouthed the words but didn't say them but he would have been severely punished if the school found out. My mother was beaten on the way to school, and told hitler was right.

Maybe that is why I'm so fundamentally opposed to prayer in school and such slights like the one above. Am I overly sensitive? Or just cautious?

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