Public schools should recognize all holidays

Summer Badrak, Staff Writer

Christmas break is rolling around once again! Oh, I mean holiday break. It just so happens that Christmas falls here. How wonderful for those who celebrate, but what about those who celebrate other religious holidays?

Most public schools have always based their breaks off of when the Christian holidays fall on the calendar. Schools typically don’t close for Jewish and Muslim holidays. For example, the jewish holiday Rosh Hashanah fell on September 21-22 which was a Thursday and Friday in 2017. Schools were not closed for this.

This falls under the category of Christian privilege, so most people aren’t aware of this. There may not be much our students can do, but how about the administration that prides themselves on the basis of having a very diverse school in all aspects?

The First Amendment Center’s document “Finding Ground: A First Amendment Guide to Religion in Public Schools” helps to clarify the matter: “schools are not required to close on a particular religious holiday but may choose to do so as a matter of administrative convenience as, for example, when large numbers of students are likely to be absent.”

This makes sense in the mindset of having a majority of students not miss school, but it leaves out the students that have to miss school days for religious holidays that we do not get off.  

This document also explains that “Sensitive school policy on absences will take account of the religious needs and requirements of students” meaning, if a student is out for religious purposes, their absences will be excused. But this also goes on to say “students may be asked to complete makeup assignments or examinations in conjunction with such absences.”  

Any high school student can explain how missing school days greatly affects learning. Conflict comes in when the student has to choose between being out for these holidays or not having to makeup so much work.

The Farmington High school code of conduct states that “For each student, daily teaching, classroom interactions, discussions, lectures, etc. cannot be duplicated and, therefore, constitute valid and crucial parts of coursework.”

It is made very clear that attendance is important. So how do we come to a healthy compromise for all?

Speak up! Explain to those who are uneducated about these issues, spread awareness, talk to administration. If enough people can become aware, a change in the system is sure to follow.

Hopefully, in the future, public schools will spread out their breaks and truly earn the pride of being diverse and accommodating for ALL students, not just “most” students.