School calendar should include all religions

Public schools, including Parkway, need to consider all religions when creating calendar

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School calendar should include all religions

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In the past few years, it is difficult to deny the emphasis on inclusion and acceptance of different cultures, especially in school. Regardless of the progress we have made, however, the question still remains: why haven’t most public schools moved away from the Christian-based school calendar?

From conveniently having Good Friday off every year to two of the 2018 Parkway graduation ceremonies originally being scheduled on a Jewish holiday, the fact is undeniable: many school districts are based around a Christian-biased calendar. Below, I will explain this issue and give my own opinion on how school districts can address it.

First off, Winter Break is not very inclusive. Stretching from late December to early January, Winter Break usually only includes Christmas and the Christian New Year. Every other religious holiday that falls in late fall/early winter, including Hanukkah and Diwali, often gets no break whatsoever, and while students celebrating those non-Christian holidays do get excused absences for celebrating, they still are expected to make up the work they missed. Christian students, however, don’t ever need to make up work from celebrating, as their major holiday, Christmas, always conveniently falls over break. This already is extremely unfair, yet the problem extends further.

This year, Muslim students will fast from May 6 until June 5 in an annual, month-long holiday called Ramadan. For those unfamiliar, during Ramadan, Muslims abstain from eating when the sun is up, and they will only eat at night. Participating in Ramadan is one of the main pillars of Islam, so Muslim students are usually unable to opt-out, though there are some exceptions. Interestingly, Ramadan occurs during the month of second semester finals, meaning that Muslim students will be studying and taking highly stressful exams on an empty stomach. This fact is concerning; since finals are already mentally taxing on their own, Muslim students are further put at a disadvantage from the timing of Ramadan. Because of this, as well as other instances, I feel that the current school calendar is a hindrance to non-Christian students.

To solve this overall problem of religious acceptance, I suggest that public school districts turn to a year-round schedule. With this calendar, summer break would be shortened, but there would consequently be more breaks throughout the year, most of which would include non-Christian holidays (though Christian holidays would still be given time for celebration, as well). That way, other religions could be properly addressed, and Christians would no longer be the only ones given time for celebration. Additionally, more breaks throughout the year would provide students time for relaxation, since classwork can get extremely stressful as the semester moves forward. I feel that an integration of a year-round system would be extremely beneficial, and it would address many issues regarding Christian bias.

To conclude, most American schools emphasize Christian holidays over other religious celebrations. This Christian-based calendar is outdated, unfair, and completely contradictory of most school districts’, including Parkway’s, all-inclusive educational approach. Now, I understand that there are, in fact, accommodations for non-Christian students in terms of praying spaces, excused absences, and acknowledgement; I just feel that there’s still room to grow in regard to religious acceptance within public school districts, and a more inclusive calendar would be a step in the right direction.

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