N.Y. mayoral candidates say they will add Muslim holidays to the school calendar

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NEW YORK – New York City will soon be getting a new mayor, and its school system may soon be getting two new Muslim holidays added to its calendar.
Wishing you happy holidaysNYDailyNews.com reports the two major candidates in next month’s mayoral election both support adding the two holiest days of the Muslim year – Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha – to the list of religious holidays observed by the New York City school district.

“No matter who is elected … city kids will likely find two new vacation days on the school calendar,” the Daily News reports.

Roughly 150,000 of the district’s 1.1 million students are Muslim. That works out to almost 14 percent of the total enrollment.

The school district already has 13 days off built into its calendar, including the Christian holidays Good Friday and Christmas, “as well as Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year, and Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year for Jewish people,” reports Aljazeera.com.

City leaders have been pushing for this change since 2009, but have been rebuffed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg who has consistently argued that students need more time in the classroom, not less.

Bloomberg has also “raised concerns that adding the Muslim holidays to the school calendar would open the door to a flood of similar requests from other religious and ethnic groups,” the Daily News reports.

An amNewYork editorial says Bloomberg is right about the need for more instruction time, and urges city leaders to find a middle ground solution.

“Here’s what (the next mayor) should do: Respect the Muslim community by adding the two school holidays to the calendar, but do it in a way that maintains overall classroom time.

“We can’t have 150,000 pupils out of school at one time twice a year, but we shouldn’t reduce the instruction time for all 1.1 million city students either. The new mayor will need to talk with the City Council, the United Federation of Teachers (the local teachers union), Muslim leaders and parent groups to find a way to accomplish both goals at once.”

The editorial suggests slightly longer school days or extending the academic year by a couple of days.

Good luck with that!

The city’s teachers union isn’t likely to agree to either of those suggestions, at least not without considerable financial incentives which the cash-starved city can’t afford.

It looks to us like the next New York City mayor faces a bit of a conundrum. He is going to anger one of three groups: The Muslim community for going back on his campaign pledge to add the holidays; the teachers union for trifling with their precious, rule-laden teachers’ contract; or city parents who are demanding more instruction time for students, not less.

Best of luck to him.

By Ben Velderman at EAGnews.org

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