Tuesday, February 24, 2009

No 2009-10 School Closings for Muslim Holidays

A Muslim holiday that was on the school district calendar for 2008-09 will not appear on the 2009-10 calendar, nor will any other religious holidays.

Schools were closed on Oct. 2 for Eid al-Fitr, a feast marking the end of the Ramadan fast. The school board had approved the holiday’s inclusion in the 2008-09 calendar adopted at the April 2008 reorganization. It had been the wish of board member Rasheed Abdul-Haqq that the most important feast day, Eid al-Adha, would also have been included.

For 2009-10, neither Eid, or feast, falls on a school day, Abdul-Haqq said. Eid al-Fitr begins on a Sunday and Eid al-Adha occurs during Thanksgiving recess.

“That’s the reason I accepted the calendar,” he said.

But when the holidays fall on school days in the future, he said, he will advocate for their inclusion on the district calendar.

Muslim holidays are based on a lunar calendar and begin at sundown when the new moon is sighted by an imam. The feast days shift each year and by 2011, Eid al-Fitr will take place in August.

The 2009-10 calendar was adopted by the school board on Feb. 17. Both this year’s and next year’s calendars are posted on the district web site.

Plaintalker asked Schools Superintendent Steve Gallon III two questions about the change. Gallon was hired in February, but took office July 1 after the 2008-09 calendar had been adopted. The questions and answers appear below.

Plaintalker: Do you have any comment on how the calendar was formulated? Also normally it is adopted at the annual reorganization in April. Is there any special reason for the early adoption?

Dr. Gallon: "The calendar was formed with an eye toward improving instructional outcomes for students; maximizing teaching and learning time; supporting professional development; complying with state testing and mandates; and promoting a sense of fairness and equity in areas of cultural and religious diversity. In doing so, there are no religious holidays reflected on the calendar and students receive approximately two additional weeks of instruction prior to state testing. Usually, by mid to late June, fatigue sets in and student attendance and learning decline. It is important for us to get our students in school as early as possible to get about the business of learning.

"The calendar was also formulated in a very thoughtful, pragmatic manner with stakeholder collaboration and input. This administrator does not consider this 'early' adoption, but timely adoption. Cranford and Westfield have also adopted their calendar. This reflects the efficiency and timeliness with which we want to plan and function, as well as notify parents, teachers, and stakeholders so that they can plan their summer and vacation activities. "

--Bernice Paglia


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Doesn't the closing of schools on a religious holiday violate the seperation of church and government principle? Are other religion's holidays treated in the same manner?
Perhaps the ACLU should be consulted.

8:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you propose that the ACLU be notified about there being no religious holidays on the 2009-2010 school calendar? Isn't the point moot now. At least until someone tries to advocate for the inclusion of a religious holiday being included again (as Mr Abdul-Haqq has vowed to do). At that point, concerned parties should voice those opinions to the school board before they adopt the next calendar.

8:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Exactly. Last year's closing was simply about Mr. Abdul-Haqq's request. People from other religions were not considered. At least now, it is fair. Great job BOE and Dr. Gallon. Enough is enough!

4:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I still don't understand why we would include a Muslim holiday as part of the school holidays....do we include Jewish holidays? is there a Jewish council manner that should "vow" to have Yom Kippur included....

6:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kudos to the Board of Education for not giving in to this divisive request for next year. As a resident of Plainfield I was appalled to learn that a Muslim holiday was outright muscled onto the school calendar by Board Member Abdul-Haqq last year. This was seen as a very divise and self-serving act. I am glad to see that this was not allowed to happen this year. The BOE is elected to serve the entire community and not specific constituent groups based on religious affiliation or another.

7:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh PLEASE...let's keep it real. Is it just COINCIDENCE that Spring Break begins on Friday April 2nd that JUST HAPPENS to be Good Friday? I wish they would at least acknowlege things for what they are.

4:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So now we can get back to normal and go back to Easter and Christmas references in our schools, Easter vacation and Christmas vacation, Christmas trees and carols in the school Christmas Concert? Didn't I hear that while muslim students can't have a separate prayer space in the school, they can pray in the principal's office? All Christian references in holidays are eliminated while outright islam is acceptable? What about the separation of church and state theory? This is baldface proof that it doesn't really exist. Where is the ACLU? Where is the equivalent of the rampant, unflinching, pandering to a few who object to (Christian) religious references and recognition in public schools and taxpayer backed institutions?

11:33 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home