By Daniel Gorelik ‘14
Weeks before anyone went to cast their ballot, both mayoral candidates were discussing changes in education. Mayoral candidates, Bill de Blasio & Joe Lhota, agreed that public schools should be closed for the observation of the two major holidays in the Muslim Calendar.
The mayoral race heated up before the elections on November 5. While campaigning, both candidates endorsed the addition of Eid ul Fitr, marking the end of Ramadan, and Eid ul Adha, the celebration during Hajj, to the public school calendar. Current mayoral elect Blasio, is advocating this issue because he feels that the Muslim population of New York deserves respect and that America was built on different faiths and beliefs.
“A child who has an exam on a day that right now is one of the Eid holidays is either respecting their religious obligation or they are doing what their education requires of them,” de Blasio said, according to the New York Daily News. “They can’t do both under our current system.”
When Eid Al Adha was celebrated on October 15, the city’s school attendance dropped to 87 percent from the typical 97 percent. According to Blasio, Muslim students make up around 13 percent of the city’s student population.
As the mayor keeps the promises of his campaign speech and works towards creating two extra holidays for the school year, a few problems emerge. By state law, all the students must attend school 183 days. The next issue is the placement. Each calendar school year is created well in advance, with all the half days, parent teacher conferences, and holidays marked, but the addition of Eid ul Fitr and Eid ul Adha would create confusion. The holidays are determined according to the lunar calendar causing the dates to change yearly. In 2011, Muslims all over the world were celebrating the holiday of Eid ul Fitr on different days because they weren’t able to see the sliver of the new moon.
I believe the holidays shouldn’t be added to the calendar because it opens Pandora’s Box. If one religion gets its own day off, then how many will follow? Daniel Dromm, a councilman from Queens is attempting to get recognition for the the Hindu holiday of Diwali. Soon there will be multiple proposals for new holidays, and they will be added to please and “respect” everyone as Blasio would put it.
“Everybody would like to be recognized, but the truth of the matter is we need more school days, not less,” Bloomberg said in 2009.
Myself being Christian Greek Orthodox, I understand the issue of missing school to celebrate my holidays. Being Christian I celebrate the same holiday’s just on different days. Yet, once another holiday is added, I’d feel disrespected that others get a day off for their holiday and I don’t. Adding days would only disrupt the system.