Picture this: waking up at noon on a school day and remembering that there is no school. Getting to stay home from school for a snow day or a holiday break is the best feeling in the world. A majority of the days off during the school year are for Christian holidays, like Christmas or Easter. The holidays celebrated by other religions, such as Judaism, are seen as a disturbance in students’ education due to the majority of students not needing the day off to observe them.
In today’s society, when kids or even their parents are discussing school breaks, the majority of them refer to it as Christmas and Easter break which already excludes a portion of the student population. While many public schools recognize the high Jewish Holidays—the most religious days of the Jewish year—most students are not educated on the reason behind the school break. Even then, knowing from personal experience, only two of the three high holiday days are given off so students must choose between their education and their religion.
When considering what days deserve breaks, school boards should continue to take the majority and perceived attendance rates into consideration. They should also consider the importance and commitment needed for each holiday. There are some religious celebrations and holidays that require a greater commitment than others. For example, Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah, the most religious Jewish days of the year, Eid al Adha, the most significant day for Muslims, and the Hindu holiday of Diwali, students usually have to attend services or fast for the day.. No matter what religion a person observes, they should be educated on other cultures and respect what is needed for the individual person and their beliefs.
College, on the other hand, is different in the sense that it is easier for kids to miss a day or two of classes rather than closing it for everybody. At FSU, the Jewish holidays are not a reason for classes to be canceled. While they are considered an excused absence, it is difficult for kids to miss the class without missing important work or notes. Kids that go to religious services or do not want to walk far distances to class while they are fasting have to miss class and all that comes with it. Missing one class could be the difference between failing and passing a test for some students.
Schools today focus on the needs of the majority rather than the minority. When creating the schedule and attempting to keep the school year from extending too late into the summer, the school board must choose which days to cancel school. Since the majority of students celebrate Christian holidays, such as Easter and Christmas, school attendance would be low, making it worth closing schools.
Although not as many kids celebrate non-Christian holidays, the ones that do either only get certain holidays off or part of a holiday off forcing them to miss important things in class. Due to them being the minority, the school board doesn’t worry as much about giving them days off.
This idea of only closing schools come from the notion that in the past when public schools were first being established, America was a predominantly Christian country so they only considered their needs. While the past few decades has seen some changes, such as giving more diverse days off, it still is not fully changed.
Many professors are considerate of this fact and try to help in whatever way they can, but when they have a class of 100, it isn’t easy for them to take into consideration the needs of a few. When considering what a possible solution might be one path could be to look at the course syllabus. Although schools can’t give off for every religious day, when schools or teachers are creating the curriculum for the year they could consider looking into the days students might need to miss for religious reasons and plan accordingly. Those days could be scheduled for review days or catch up days for students to get work done.
This generation of kids need to learn the importance of other cultures so they can be better informed in society. This includes having religious days off and over all being better informed of why these days are observed as holidays.