Tampa Schools Scrap Religious Holidays
Responding to a request from a Muslim group to recognize one of their holidays, the Tampa area Hillsborough County School Board instead took away holidays for Yom Kippur, Good Friday, and other religious holidays that haven’t become totally secularized.
Schools Scrap Religious Holidays (Tampa Bay Tribune)
After weeks of delay and debate, the Hillsborough County School Board approved a 2006-07 calendar minus holidays for Yom Kippur, Good Friday or the Muslim holiday Eid Al-Fitr. The 6-1 vote represents a major shift from scheduling days off on religious holidays, a practice School Board Attorney Tom Gonzalez on Tuesday said was wrong. “A school board cannot recognize a religious holiday for the sole purpose of recognizing a religious holiday,” Gonzalez said at a meeting packed with dozens of members of the Muslim community, some pleading to have no school on holidays for all religions.
So many people celebrate Christmas that businesses can’t operate on that day, Gonzalez said. If large numbers of students and teachers are absent on other religious holidays, the district may opt to again make those days off, he said.
Only board member Jennifer Faliero voted against the new calendar, saying she checked with other lawyers and believes Good Friday is a secular holiday: “It is now about the Easter Bunny. … They have taken religion out of it completely.”
I went to seven different schools before graduating high school and was a student or teacher at six universities and never got Yom Kippur off and only sporadically got Good Friday–and even then it was sometimes canceled as a makeup day for snow. Gonzales is likely right: Christmas is so non-religious in its celebration at this point as to be virtually universal, a belief the Supreme Court reportedly shares.
When I was in grade school, we got Easter vacation. By the time I was in high school, we got either Spring break or, in the odd case of Alabama, “AEA week” because it coincided with the annual meeting of the teachers’ union. Schools get Easter off regardless, since it falls on a Sunday.
Write me when they cancel Christmas. Until then, our society will continue to recognize, rightly, the overwhelming predominance of Christianisty as a cultural backdrop.