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SO. I'm asking this with all sincerity because I just don't know ....


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If we have separation of church and state in our public schools, why do some school districts close specifically for Jewish holidays (and only Jewish holidays -- not Christian ones or Islamic ones or etc.)? I transcribe for high schools on the east coast, and one district on Long Island in New York that I work for had two days off last week for Rosh Hashanah and has tomorrow off for Yom Kippur . This surprises me as I've not experienced it before.

 

Insight, please?

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I don't know the exact reason, but I always assumed that they knew there would be a large enough % of students staying home from school on certain days that it would be less disruptive to just go ahead and schedule around it. I've heard of schools in farm country scheduling the school calendar around months when there would be a lot of kids pulled out to work.

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One of the schools I attended had a large Jewish student population, and later I attended one with a large Catholic population. If the school didn't schedule the day off, enough kids would miss class to cause the teacher to have to re-teach the lesson. I imagine that areas with large populations of any religion would face the same issue (I'm thinking of Detroit, isn't there a large Muslim population there?).

 

Anyway, ime, it wasn't really about the school honoring any particular religious preferences. It was more pragmatic, so the teachers could keep all students on pace.

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I don't know the exact reason, but I always assumed that they knew there would be a large enough % of students staying home from school on certain days that it would be less disruptive to just go ahead and schedule around it. I've heard of schools in farm country scheduling the school calendar around months when there would be a lot of kids pulled out to work.

 

 

Yes, I think this is it. I've lived in a school district where the first day of hunting season is a 'holiday' and classes are cancelled.

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Well, growing up in south Louisiana, we always had 3 days off for Mardi Gras/Ash Wednesday. A local parish took off for the Crawfish Festival, which is a huge event in the area. If you think about it, most school districts align their Spring Breaks to Easter. And shall we mention the usual 2 weeks off for Christmas? So it's not just Jewish holidays that are celebrated, though I suspect that in that particular area there is a high concentration of Jewish people who wouldn't show up for school even if there was regularly scheduled school.

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It comes down to local community standards and preferences. If 80% of the school are orthodox jewish families who will not send their children those days anyway, it makes sense to just schedule those holidays off, just as Christmas break and often Good Friday are scheduled off in most communities, where the dominant faith group is or historically was Christian.

 

The present summers off model became an urban preference when anyone who could afford it would flee hot stinky cities to summer in the country, or at least farm out their children.

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Oh, that makes so much sense. I bet that's it. Thank you! (All I know is it means I don't get to earn my keep for three days :D)

 

ETA -- Hey, I just realized: I can ask my priest. He's a Jew that grew up in New York City. I bet he'll be able to verify.

Edited by milovaný
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I don't know how that should be any more or less questionable than schools that close for Christmas or Easter or Good Friday, even if they don't specifically call them those holidays anymore.

 

While there is "supposed" to be separation of church and state in the US, it is quite obvious that it doesn't apply for certain religions, and some of those religions get a bigger pass than others.

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I don't know how that should be any more or less questionable than schools that close for Christmas or Easter or Good Friday, even if they don't specifically call them those holidays anymore.

 

I think the winter break has truly became a winter break, not a celebration of any particular holiday. It's between quarters/semesters and is a natural time for a few weeks off (maybe my experience with universities colors that -- the break is about a month long). Easter? It's on a Sunday. We've never gotten a day off of school for that. Good Friday? Have never in my life had experience with having that day off from school. I live on the far left (literal and figurative) coast, though, so maybe that plays in to it.

Edited by milovaný
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If we have separation of church and state in our public schools, why do some school districts close specifically for Jewish holidays (and only Jewish holidays -- not Christian ones or Islamic ones or etc.)? I transcribe for high schools on the east coast, and one district on Long Island in New York that I work for had two days off last week for Rosh Hashanah and has tomorrow off for Yom Kippur . This surprises me as I've not experienced it before.

 

I think that getting Christian holidays off is invisible to you because it seems so normal. For example, why isn't there school on Sunday? ("Because it's the weekend" is begging the question. Why is Sunday part of the weekend?) Why has no school district ever, in the history of modern America, had school on Christmas day?

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I think the winter break has truly became a winter break, not a celebration of any particular holiday. It's between quarters/semesters and is a natural time for a few weeks off (maybe my experience with universities colors that -- the break is about a month long). Easter? It's on a Sunday. We've never gotten a day off of school for that. Good Friday? Have never in my life had experience with having that day off from school. I live on the far left (literal and figurative) coast, though, so maybe that plays in to it.

 

It's between semesters in college, but not high school. The high school students have finals about two weeks after they return from break--not ideal.

 

And "winter break" is always aligned with Christmas, even when Hanukkah is earlier in the month.

 

Having grown up in Oregon and raised my kids in Rhode Island and Vermont, I do think there is an East coast/West coast issue here. In Rhode Island, we absolutely got Good Friday off, even when spring break was in a different month.

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A school district near me has a significant Jewish population. They have enough Jewish teachers that they would not be able to reasonably staff enough substitutes on high holy days. So, they schedule Rosh Hoshana and Yom Kippur as school holidays. In my district, Jewish teachers must use a personal day to take off for each of these holidays. The teachers are permitted to use 3 of their 9 sick days a year as personal days. Jewish students are given an excused absence.

 

When I worked in public school we were given reminders about Jewish holidays, Ramadan, February 21 (Persian New Year?), and other days. We were supposed to make alternative assignments/work make up opportunities for students who participated.

 

My district has winter break always including Christmas and spring break always including Easter. Winter break is never at the end of quarter or semester and spring break only occasionally falls at the end of a quarter or semester. It is often a week before or after the quarter break. While these school holidays have secular names, they definitely favor one religion.

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When I was in college I was in the SUNY system and there were certain schools that got a few of the Jewish holidays off. Binghamton was one of them. I was at Geneseo which was largely Christian so we didn't. It seemed to go with what the population needed. I think even growing up on LI that we got some of the days off.

 

Oh and to add this funny note: Here in VA they call the January day off Lee/Jackson/King Day. Just can't let go of the war lol

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It's between semesters in college, but not high school. The high school students have finals about two weeks after they return from break--not ideal.

 

And "winter break" is always aligned with Christmas, even when Hanukkah is earlier in the month.

 

Having grown up in Oregon and raised my kids in Rhode Island and Vermont, I do think there is an East coast/West coast issue here. In Rhode Island, we absolutely got Good Friday off, even when spring break was in a different month.

 

The semester always ended the day before winter break started my whole academic career. I have never taken exams when I got back from break.

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You may not be able to "earn your keep" for those days, but the school year isn't any shorter due to those days being off. In other words, if the district mandates 180 school days per year, there will still be 180 school days, you just will have school open on a different days at the beginning or end of the school year.

 

Our year round schools couldn't have the Jewish Holidays off because there were simply no days to add on anywhere (we were a track system and 1/3 of the school was on vacation while the other 2/3 met, so all available days were taken.) However, Jewish teachers could take the day off with no penalties against their sick days, and Jewish students who came back with a note from their parents were excused for absence.

 

Dawn

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Just another view point - it goes farther than religious holidays. I grew up in an area that was extremely white. My high school had 4 black students. FOUR. We never got MLK day. Or if we did it was Lee-King Day. Robert E Lee and Martin Luther King Jr. Very strange combination if you ask me. Now dd is taking dual enrolled classes at a local community college in an area with a much larger black population. She gets the day off from classes. It's not marked as MLK Day just "college holiday" but they don't seem to name them - Independence Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Easter weekend are all off and all just say college holiday.

 

I've never been in an area where all students got Jewish or Muslim holidays off. But I've never been in an area where they made up a large percentage of the student population either. The only Christian holidays included in the calendar were Easter and Christmas.

 

But a surprising thing (to me) is that TeenPact, an out and out Christian organization, is not taking off for Easter this year. NC has 2 weeks this year, one the week before Easter and one the week after. The speaking workshop for week 1 is Friday and week 2 does start on Monday. It is their normal schedule but I'm surprised they scheduled back to back weeks where Easter is in the middle. (We usually take Friday and Monday off for Easter.)

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we always have election day, because the school buildings are used as polling stations. This didn't used to be the case (I live where I grew up). My parents used to drive me to school on election day and then go vote. I think they changed it to keep numbers of unknown people out of the school building while classes were in session.

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But your dh being busy doesn't have anything to do with your faith, it has to do with his chosen field of work.

 

We never go anywhere for March or April either as Dh is an accountant.

 

Dawn

 

I wish Fairfax County didn't always align Spring Break with Holy Week (Roman). It is my hubby's busiest week of the year, and we can never go anywhere. :glare:

 

So, sometimes what seems an advantage to Christians isn't for ALL Christians! ;):D

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Just another view point - it goes farther than religious holidays. I grew up in an area that was extremely white. My high school had 4 black students. FOUR. We never got MLK day. Or if we did it was Lee-King Day. Robert E Lee and Martin Luther King Jr. Very strange combination if you ask me.

 

 

Did you live in VA? I remember Lee-Jackson-King Day when I was a kid. I think the state didn't want to have MLK day when it was first proposed as a national holiday. Now, in my part of the state we just have MLK day.

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Well, growing up in south Louisiana, we always had 3 days off for Mardi Gras/Ash Wednesday. A local parish took off for the Crawfish Festival, which is a huge event in the area. If you think about it, most school districts align their Spring Breaks to Easter. And shall we mention the usual 2 weeks off for Christmas? So it's not just Jewish holidays that are celebrated, though I suspect that in that particular area there is a high concentration of Jewish people who wouldn't show up for school even if there was regularly scheduled school.

 

I grew up near NO also. I remember one year they made Ash Wed a school day (after being off Mon and Tues). Half the teachers had subs and lots of kids were out because parents didn't make them go. It has since been commonly referred to as "Hangover Day".:tongue_smilie:

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If we have separation of church and state in our public schools, why do some school districts close specifically for Jewish holidays (and only Jewish holidays -- not Christian ones or Islamic ones or etc.)? I transcribe for high schools on the east coast, and one district on Long Island in New York that I work for had two days off last week for Rosh Hashanah and has tomorrow off for Yom Kippur . This surprises me as I've not experienced it before.

 

Insight, please?

 

Teachers' unions usually request a particular vacation schedule. Where I live they always request the week of Easter, regardless of how late in the year that may be. If a large percentage of local teachers were Jewish or Muslim, I would expect vacation days on those holidays, too.

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Like someone else said, it's simply numbers and percentages. I live in an area with both many Catholics and many Jews, but it varies by town. Towns with larger Jewish populations may get the Jewish holidays off, others like mine are just told not to assign homework those days. I also got Good Friday off as a kid, but that also varies by town. Christmas falls over a not-so-coincidental 2-week break, and Easter is always on Sunday anyway. What other Christian holidays would you expect school to be closed for? I went to a Catholic high school and the only Christian holiday we got off that was in addition to what the public school day was St. Joseph's Day, and that was only because the nuns were the Sisters of St. Joseph.

 

No one would give off for Hannukah in any case because it's a minor holiday.

 

My guess is if a town got a large enough Muslim population, they'd give the Muslim holidays off too. If not enough kids are going to come to school for it to be disruptive, it makes sense to take the day off.

Edited by matroyshka
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Interesting. Where did you go to high school?

 

I know in Oregon when I was growing up and in Vermont where my son goes to high school, first semester exams are after Christmas.

 

:iagree: That's not how it was when I was growing up, but now here in CT and RI the high school students have exams when they get back from winter break. (Boo!)

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We have a huge Jewish population around here, so the schools all close for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Those are the big Jewish holidays, so half the schools would be empty around here on those days if they remained open.

 

The schools around here are also closed on Christmas and obviously, since Easter is on a Sunday, they would be closed anyway. Most schools also close on Good Friday around here. I imagine if we had a significant population of any other religion in this area, the schools would be closed for their most important holidays.

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Our local schools are off for Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, "Winter Recess", MLK Day (mid-term exams are this week - the third week of January), Presidents Day week as "February Recess" (VERY few schools seem to get this off anymore but my local district does), Good Friday, Spring Break is the week after Easter so it's a 10 day break since it includes Good Friday, school ends the last week of June.

 

We have districts that still take off Columbus Day if there are a lot of Italians. Not every school takes the week after Easter for Spring Break, some take the week before, some take a completely different week but that's very unusual.

 

The town next to ours takes off for Hindu and Muslim holidays since they have a very large population of immigrants from India, Pakistan, and the surrounding area.

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I grew up in Northern VA and we had neither Good Friday nor Jewish High Holidays off. We just didn't have that many Jews and the Catholics just got out of class (and not just for GOOD Friday) and drove off to church. Then they drove back. (That was in high school). I was Catholic back then and hey, I decided, why not go to a HOly Day of Obligation? Get to get out of class and go with my friends to church.

 

In New Mexico, Good Friday is a day off since there is a long tradition of these very long hikes as a type of pilgrimage on that day. You see the Spanish descendants and anyone else who wants to participate in these long processions on the sides of highways. So they close the school because the kids wouldn't come anyway.

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Not every school takes the week after Easter for Spring Break, some take the week before, some take a completely different week but that's very unusual.

 

Here Spring Break is aligned with Patriot's Day in April, which is a MA only holiday. But that way they only take 4 extra days, as they'd have to take Monday off anyway.

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I grew up near Boston, and we had Good Friday and St. Patrick's Day off as school holidays. They weren't called that on the school calendars, but it was always the Friday before (Roman) Easter and March 17th.

 

Did you grow up in Suffolk County? If so, March 17th is officially off for Evacuation Day (the day the British evacuated Boston during the Revolution) - it's just a happy coincidence that St. Patrick's is the same day.

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This is why I love homeschooling. We are farmers and we have to extremely busy times of year. Planting and harvesting. I made the kids work during the summer knowing full well that they would be going to 1/2 days once we started harvesting. My son thinks I'm so cool because I let him stop his math to go watch the semi-trailers get filled with beans. In truth he's 30 days ahead in Math, shhhh don't tell him! :lol:

 

Now, that all the kids are finally out of the school system, I'm looking forward to this upcoming winter, in hopes we can actually go on a vacation during the winter months.

 

So, do you all plan to take MLK day off, or March 17th? We take our birthdays off to spend the day celebrating that family member. I don't follow the schools PA. days at all. There are no neighborhood children around so my kids don't notice the other kids are out of school.

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But your dh being busy doesn't have anything to do with your faith, it has to do with his chosen field of work.We never go anywhere for March or April either as Dh is an accountant.

 

Dawn

(Bold mine)

 

Well, yeah it does--his faith dictated his profession. I'm not sure I get what you are saying.

 

I don't go to work on Holy Thurs or Good Fri (at least, I try not to--had to last year). I'd pull dd from school even if she didn't have off. If her Spring Break could be at a different time, we could vacation, at least for a day or two. So for us, having Spring Break aligned with Holy Week isn't really a help for us to celebrate it.

 

Sil is an accountant, and I hear you about the "season."

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Spring break in this district always includes Good Friday and Easter. They actually get seven school days off. Winter break is, of course, Christmas, but they have mid-terms two weeks after returning in January. I actually wouldn't mind starting the year two weeks earlier so they could get the exams done before break.

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Regardless as to separation of church/state/whatever, it seems silly to insist on holding school and teaching classes on a day when a high percentage of the students will be absent for whatever local cultural reason there is, whether it's agricultural (harvest time, planting time), religious (religious holidays, especially ones that require all-day attendance), or other (first day of deer season).

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It comes down to local community standards and preferences. If 80% of the school are orthodox jewish families who will not send their children those days anyway

 

Most orthodox Jews in NYC have their kids in private religious schools. The percentage of Jewish students in the public schools is small. My guess is that it has more to do with the percentage of teachers and then having to find (non Jewish) substitutes.

 

To the OP, I've wondered this myself, why the Jewish holidays are off even though so few Jewish students in the public schools here. Maybe the custom dates back to when there were more Jewish students in NYC public schools.

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It comes down to local community standards and preferences. If 80% of the school are orthodox jewish families who will not send their children those days anyway, it makes sense to just schedule those holidays off, just as Christmas break and often Good Friday are scheduled off in most communities, where the dominant faith group is or historically was Christian.

 

The present summers off model became an urban preference when anyone who could afford it would flee hot stinky cities to summer in the country, or at least farm out their children.

 

:iagree: I have never ever been to a school that closed for a Jewish holiday. And I was raised Jewish! But they closed for every Christian holiday under the sun. They still do here, too.

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If we have separation of church and state in our public schools, why do some school districts close specifically for Jewish holidays (and only Jewish holidays -- not Christian ones or Islamic ones or etc.)? I transcribe for high schools on the east coast, and one district on Long Island in New York that I work for had two days off last week for Rosh Hashanah and has tomorrow off for Yom Kippur . This surprises me as I've not experienced it before.

 

Insight, please?

 

I don't know any schools that are open on Christmas or New Year, and these are national holidays as well. Many schools traditionally had spring break around Easter.

 

I went to school until the end of June, and we only got Christian holidays off, officially. I don't understand the claim there are too many holidays or whatever. I attended public school in a major metropolitan US city. My high school had a significant number of students out of school on Rosh Hashanah, but not so many on Yom Kippur, but it was open. Many teachers missed, as well. Including my math teacher who screamed at anyone for saying "God bless you," because he believed in keeping religion out of schools. Just because many Orthodox Jewish kids attend private schools doesn't mean there are no Jewish kids in the public schools; there are tons of Reform Jews in the US. Tons! And plenty of kids in my school were Jewish on Rosh Hashanah, but not on Yom Kippur. I don't see the big deal in a majority Jewish or majority Muslim school district to work around those holidays, because it avoids mass absences on those days. I don't see why the separation of church and state should mean everyone is a default Christian and get those days off. Only Christian holidays like Christmas are national holidays when government offices like the Post Office close.

 

Boston Public Schools get Good Friday off. They also get Bunker Hill Day off.

 

New York provides 13 school holidays on Jewish and Christian holy days and has refused to provide a school holiday for Islamic holy day(s). Cambridge, MA allows for a single Muslim holy day observance per year. I do not know of any other school districts that provide Islamic holy days as observances, including in districts with large Muslim student populations.

Edited by stripe
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I think it's crazy... it's not that God was never suppose to be acknowledged in schools... State wasn't going to be running the Church. I actually asked what Chanukah was when I was young (in PS) and told not to worry about it, that I'd never come in contact with it. :( Funny! I lived with a Jewish family as a young adult.... and then there is just cultural knowledge :) Guess it wasn't in the lesson plan :(

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