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Controversy over adding 2 Muslim holidays to California school calendar

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SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — San Francisco Public Schools will add two holidays next school year. The school board voted to close all schools on two of the holiest Muslim days. This doesn’t sit well with some people who say we need more instruction, not less.

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

“Hundreds of our children have been left behind, missing classes, missing homework, when they have to take time for it 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 is no process in place when selecting holidays.

Hsu also believes that all students need more instruction, not less. She recently appeared on the John Rothman radio program regarding how students are currently observing Eid.

“Muslim students can take the two days off and they will not be penalized,” she said.

The council’s action is deemed unfair by others. Members of the Jewish community remind the council that the neighborhood is not taking off for Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur.

“I think many of our families would prefer to see opportunities to discuss Jewish identity and celebrations in the classroom bringing Passover, bringing Hanakkah and bringing the rest of the SFUSD kids into our traditions and doing the same for Muslims and Hindus and Christians and other minorities,” said Tyler Gregory of the Jewish Community Relations Council.

A year ago, Juneteenth became a federal holiday. The summer school students are absent that day.

California also recognizes Cesar Chavez Day and Indigenous Peoples Day.

But other holidays like Lunar New Year and now Eid will be holidays at SFUSD even though they are not recognized statewide.

Now a lawyer, Paul Scott, is asking the school board to overturn its vote or face a lawsuit for allegedly favoring one religion over another.

“The worst thing our elected officials can do is find ways to divide us. We need to be united at a time like this,” added Gregory.

Scott gave the council until August 31 to reverse its decision. Scott was behind the lawsuit against the renaming of San Francisco public schools.


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