All students regardless of faith in the largest school system in the country will not have class on two of the important Muslim holidays. Next school year the school system will start observing the holidays following an effort of nearly a decade by the Islamic community of New York City.
The move was announced this week that the public schools in the city will close on September 24 to observe Eid al-Adha and on July 5 or 6 in observance of Eid al-Fitr. This echoes what the school system already does for Rosh Hashanah and Passover two Jewish holidays.
Bill de Blasio the Mayor of New York said it was all about fairness calling it a simple decision. He pledged while a candidate to close public schools for the more than 1.1 million students on the two holy days for Muslims.
While there are certain school systems in the U.S. that close to allow the observance of Muslim holidays, the majority accommodate the holy days of many different religions by allowing excused absences by students.
About 1 out of 10 students in the public school system in New York City is Muslim according to a study done in 2008 by Columbia University.
Christian holidays have been ensconced in the calendars of schools because of the overwhelming majority of students being Christian, at least in the first days of public education. Christmas as well as winter breaks are now secular, spring break in many schools is not always at Easter any longer.
As the country increases its diversity amongst religions, the challenge of all schools will be accommodating the important holy days without having to cancel classes for every student. Some large school districts such as Los Angeles have such a broad range of religions in their student body that meeting the standards for the state for class time would fall into danger.