A Maryland school board has responded to requests of recognition for Muslim holidays in their calendar by removing ALL religious holidays from their calendar. The result has successfully led to the equalizing of frustrations from parents of all faiths. No comments have been reported from any of the affected students, which is likely due to their uncanny ability to realize they actually aren’t affected by the rewording of calendar days in which they’ve always had off from school, and will continue to do so per the new calendar as well. I suspect they are all too busy with things they actually care about, like Instagram and Snapchat and getting into college. Essentially, their parents just needed something to fuel their political rage, and the kids are happy to be in the peripheral of whatever current thing grown ups are yelling about.
According to Muslim community leaders, they have repeatedly asked board officials to observe one of their religion’s major holidays in the school’s calendar, the same way they have done for years with Christian and Jewish holidays. It seems like a reasonable request, especially considering there are only two major Muslim holidays. On the one hand, I totally get why Muslims would want that; it’s simply a matter of equality and respect for all religions. On the other hand, the decision to eradicate the names of religious holidays from a public school’s calendar makes all the “separation of church and state” sense in the world. But, on the other other hand (hi, I have 3 hands), the school system has still failed to acknowledge the Muslim community. They could have just added the holiday, and only risked upsetting a small fraction of petty bigoted parents, but instead they chose to uproot the vernacular of the whole calendar while still blatantly disregarding the people they are pretending to appease.
In what is quite possibly the most passive-aggressive move in the history of American school systems, Montgomery County’s semantical adjustment of religious holidays printed in the school calendar has managed to bring people of all faiths together, in a unified group of disgruntled parents who have put aside their disdain for each other in order to focus on being mad at school officials. While the parallel will surely be missed by many Christians, the fact remains that they are now experiencing the same feelings that led Muslims to formally complaining in the first place. Although, to a much lesser degree, considering the Christian and Jewish holidays remain recognized under different names, such as “winter break,” while exactly zero Muslim holidays are designated with such benefits. Now, if we go back and consult my trio of hands, the first one would argue that the school board’s action has only highlighted the religious inequality represented in the holiday schedule. The second hand would argue that none of these religious holidays should ever have been printed in the calendar, and therefore the changes made finally reflect constitutional correctness. However, if we consult my mystical third hand for a second time, we find that the other hands cancel one another out because they are rooted in opposing ideas of equality, neither of which are unbiased like my trusty additional appendage. So, I’d like to raise my third hand and propose a plan to institute real, actual, cold, hard fairness.
Basically, you can’t be a federally funded public school and placate to every single religion, because Alf only knows where that will get us (40 day school years and no empty calendar space to write appointment reminders). More importantly, public schools cannot placate to ANY religious holidays, because basic education should not collide with whatever arbitrary spiritual beliefs people have. The real answer would be for schools to do a complete overhaul and come up with some other method for determining days off, like a mathematical formula. That way, when students are required to attend school before they go home and stuff their faces with turkey, their parents will only have the Gods of Statistics to blame. If you want to be sour about your kids having to blasphemously do a little book-learnin’ on baby Jesus’ birthday, then you can take it up with the all mighty numerical system.
Growing up is all about multi-tasking, and not dedicating an entire day to being a gluttonous heathen doesn’t make you any less of an American or a child of whatever omnipotent power you may or may not pray to at the end of the day. Renaming Jewish and Christian holidays in lieu of adding a Muslim one doesn’t solve anything, it only creates more problems by shining a light on how selfish people can be over the dumbest little things – a behavior most Christians already celebrate with the traditional holiday known as “Black Friday.” What public school boards need to do is stop, drop, and roll out a better solution so that education can be at the forefront of their priorities, and parents can find better things to preoccupy their time with, like infiltrating their kids’ social media accounts to make sure they’re not doing ungodly things, like hating people with different religious backgrounds. Because THAT would be inappropriate.