US district adds Diwali & Eid holidays to school calendar

ISSUschlogoA US school district unanimously voted to add Diwali, Eid-al-Adha and Chinese Lunar New Year’s Eve to the school holiday calendar for the first time in its history.

The NRI community hailed the decision by Howard County Public School System, that manages 71 schools and serves some 50,000 students.

The Board of Education chairwoman Christine O’Connor said she is pleased at the Board’s ability to discuss and agree to seek ways to recognise the diverse backgrounds of Howard County’s students and families, and they want to do their best to find flexibility within the calendar to provide opportunities for all students to experience all the cultures within the community.

The Hindu American Foundation director of education lauded the Board saying it is a great way forward in acknowledging diverse religious holidays without violating the spirit of church-state separation.

The Foundation and the Chinmaya Mission started a petition that collected over 250 signatures in under three weeks and the Board received some 500 emails from parents asking for the inclusion of Diwali.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, Maryland, said the vote is proof that it is possible to accommodate the religious needs of multiple faith communities in diverse school districts.

According to the Baltimore Sun, at this time 42 percent of Howard County students are white, 22 percent black, 19 percent Asian, 9 percent Hispanic and 6 percent are mixed race.