Controversy brewing over adding 2 Muslim holidays to SFUSD school calendar

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Tuesday, August 30, 2022
Controversy brewing over adding 2 Muslim holidays to SFUSD calendar
Community members are debating the SFUSD board's vote to add two Muslim holidays to the 2023-24 school year.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco's public schools will add two holidays next academic year. The school board voted to close all schools on two of the holiest Muslim days. This is not sitting well with some people who say we need more instruction not less.

If all goes as planned, beginning in the fall of 2023, students in San Francisco public schools will have two additional days off to celebrate Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, two cultural holidays of Muslim origin.

"Hundreds of our children were left behind academically missing classes, missing assignments, when they have to take off time for this to be with their families," explained Wassim Hage of the Arab Resource and Organizing Center.

The San Francisco Unified School Board agreed. Only one member, Ann Hsu, voted against adding these two holidays, arguing that there isn't a process in place when selecting holidays.

Hsu also believes all students need more instruction, not less. She recently appeared on the John Rothman Radio Program with regard to how students currently observe Eid.

"Muslim students can take the two days off and they will not be penalized," she clarified.

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The action by the board is deemed unfair by others. Those in the Jewish community are reminding the board that the district does not take off for Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur.

"I think a lot of our families would rather see opportunities to discuss Jewish identity and celebrations in the classroom bringing Passover, bringing Hanakkah and bring the rest of SFUSD kids into our traditions and do the same thing for Muslim and Hindus and Christians and other minorities," argued Tyler Gregory of the Jewish Community Relations Council.

A year ago, Juneteenth became a federal holiday. Summer school students are off on that day.

California also acknowledges Cesar Chavez Day and Indigenous People's Day.

But other holidays like Lunar New Year and now Eid will be days off at SFUSD even though they are not recognized state-wide.

Now an attorney, Paul Scott, is asking the school board to rescind its vote or face a lawsuit for supposedly favoring one religious faith over another.

"The worse thing that our elected officials can do is find ways to divide us. We have to be united at a time like this," added Gregory.

Scott has given the board until August 31 to rescind its decision. Scott was behind the lawsuit against renaming public schools in San Francisco.

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