Raise Awareness and Support to Achieve No School on Eid in the ICCSD
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Photo Credit: Iowa City Mosque. (Disclaimer: this photo was taken before COVID-19 so social distancing is not present.)
By Reem Kirja, Ideal Reality Union
Imagine waking up Christmas morning, running downstairs, opening presents, and then grabbing your backpack and heading to school. That would never happen, but for many Muslim students in the ICCSD, it’s what is asked of them each year Eid falls during school. The ICCSD should change their calendar to give students the day off to celebrate Eid so that everyone is included and considered.
What is Eid? Eid is a Muslim holiday consisting of laughter, celebration, and religious ceremonies. There are two Eids, Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha. The difference between them is always going to be 70 days. They follow a lunar calendar, meaning they will not appear on the same day every year. If some of the readers think that this might be a hassle, the Ideal Reality Union came up with a solution. Setting up a group with the ICCSD in collaboration with The NSE Campaign (Which is a campaign made by *The Ideal Reality Club) that’ll be in charge of finding out the days for both Eids every year.
Now for the next order of business. Why should Muslims have no school on Eid? Well, they are part of the community and they have the right to celebrate their holidays without missing anything from school. Even if some of the opposers say “oh, there can just be no important tests or quizzes on that day.” No. That doesn’t make sense because every student goes to school to learn, not to waste their time with unimportant topics that won’t be beneficial for their future. There is nothing during school that is unimportant. On a daily basis, we learn new theories and skills. My old teacher in 7th grade always used to say, “If you miss the day, catch up with it by going to the back of the room and open your class period bin.” Now this will probably happen when students miss school for Eid. Why? Well, because a school day is a school day with teachers teaching and lessons being learned. So yes, there will be missed learning time when Muslims take a day off for Eid. I know that I used to have piles of homework in Middle School and it only got even more stressful in High School, so for me to come back to missed lessons and possibly even tests was really frustrating.
Muslims attend something called Eid Prayer. Some Muslims rush through Eid prayer and don’t focus or don’t attend it at all because of school or the need to get their kids there. That is looked down upon in the Islamic Religion and is a very bad habit to get into. Eid prayer is a time to pray for Allah, then hang out with people you haven’t seen in ages. It is wonderful there and your Eid simply isn’t complete without going.
And three, if we have no school during Christmas why not have them during Eid? Sure, some can say “oh, Winter break isn’t considered a Christmas break. It’s just beneficial to have it during that time.” Who is it beneficial to? Me? No. I don’t celebrate Christmas. Over 3-4 million people and growing in the United States don’t celebrate Christmas according to a study made in 2020 cited from World Population Review. By the way, how long is Christmas break? It’s about 2 weeks long meaning a one-day celebration has 10 days off. We only want at about 2 days off for both Eids meaning if they both fall during school, the maximum total would be 4 days out of 174 days of school. The difference is 6 days between Winter break and the hopefully achieved Eid break.
Correct me on my calculations if I’m wrong, but by law (according to nces.ed.gov), the ICCSD gets to choose if they have a minimum of 180 days OR 1080 hours per school year. The ICCSD follows the hours rule because, in the 2020-2021 calendar, It states that there would be 174 days of school, which is below the minimum of days. For Elementary students, they get exactly seven hours of school time every day but six hours on early out days. That means they have 1183 hours of school a year. If one Eid happens to land during school days, that would indicate two days off. There would be 1159 hours of school that year which is still above the minimum. Keep that in mind. If both Eids fall during school, that would result in four days off, meaning 1155 hours of school that year. Also above the minimum, concluding that having a maximum of four days off for Eid would not disobey the law (for elementary students). Middle and High school students have 10 extra minutes and if you do the math, that would also not break the law or affect student learning. So, this is achievable by legal standards.
If some don’t want to have No School on Eid, they can use The First Amendment as a weapon, which states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;” according to Constitution Annotated. But for it to be used as a weapon, Christmas needs to be demoted as a national holiday because it is a religious celebration. The national holiday violates the rule of separation of church and state which is phrased by Thomas Jefferson. According to Wikipedia and its secondary source, “The separation of church and state is a philosophic and jurisprudential concept for defining political distance in the relationship between religious organizations and the state.”
Let me tell you an interesting fact. Did you know that Emirate, Qatar, Sudan, and many other Muslim countries respect and have no school during Christmas? Why doesn’t the ICCSD and other school districts do the same for us? If you notice, the majority of the population in those countries are Muslims, not Christian yet they still respect and approve of no school during Christmas, so that everyone can celebrate their holidays freely. We should be free to celebrate our holidays without the stress of school just like they do. We should be able to stand up for our rights as young adults without our dreams being crushed into bits and pieces. Especially since Muslims are growing at an exponential rate, the world needs to keep up.
In New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio approved of no school on Eid stating that the days of Eid will be a holiday every time they occur during the school year. As he said, this was “a watershed moment for a group that has endured suspicion and hostility since the September 11, 2009 attack.” according to the NY Times. Unfortunately. Which is why this Eid break is so important. To reverse the damage done mentally on all Muslims in the ICCSD and hopefully other districts too, and to show them that they are welcomed and accepted here in the ICCSD.
The goal of this essay is to tell all readers why there shouldn't be school on Eid for the Iowa City Community School District, and other districts in the near future as well. It is important to talk about this subject because there are many Muslims in the ICCSD that are put as absent just for taking a day off to celebrate their holiday. Not only that, but they also miss important learning time used for their future as well as homework that later piles up and becomes stressful for such young children to endure. Hopefully, this was a good experience for everyone. We hope the readers have changed their minds if they disagreed at first, or made your opinion stronger, on letting kids attend school on Eid, or at least got an idea of what we're trying to state while also learning new information in the process. If you would like to support our cause, please go to change.org and look for the petition titled “Raise awareness and support to achieve no school on Eid in the ICCSD” and add your signature there. Your help would be much appreciated. Lastly, we would like to thank you for spending the time to read this. We hope you have an amazing day.
- The Ideal Reality Union, RK
*The Ideal Reality Union is a recently formed club that strives to solve and raise awareness of important issues in our world. They’ve been working on The NSE Campaign (The No School on Eid Campaign) since 2017 and will move on to other important subjects after The NSE Campaign is done. If you are interested in joining The Ideal Reality Union or have any other business to discuss, please contact us at IdealRealityUnion@gmail.com.
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