NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A holy war is brewing over school holidays.
Proposals were revealed Thursday to add three new “school is closed” days for all New York City students in honor of Muslim and Hindu observances.
But Mayor Michael Bloomberg said no way, CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported.
Many of the Hindu New Yorkers live in the Jackson Heights section of Queens. They want the city to recognize a key holy day, Diwali — the festival of light — with a day off from school.
Community member Ravi Batra of the National Advisory Council on South Asian Affairs called the holiday, “an American landmark to be achieved on the road to fostering as Thomas Jefferson said a more perfect union it is ‘E pluribus unum’ in action.”
Queens Councilman Daniel Dromm has introduced a resolution to make it happen
“It’s very, very important that we teach not only the South Asian students but all students from all backgrounds respect for diversity, respect for differences,” Dromm said.
The move comes as mayoral candidates Bill de Blasio, the Democrat, and Joe Lhota, the Republican, are calling for education officials to recognize two Muslim holy days as official school holidays as well.
Mayor Bloomberg, however, is unmoved.
“The mayor believes our students need more time in the classroom, not less,” said Bloomberg spokesman Jake Goldman. “When you have a city as diverse as New York, you simply cannot add a holiday for every religion.”
“Usually New York City does between 186 and 190 days of school. The state minimum is 180, so for us to take a couple or more days off I don’t really believe will affect the education of our students,” Dromm added.
The proposal was met with agreement and skepticism on Thursday.
“My kid will love it,” said Benjamin Weiner of Brooklyn.
“I don’t think it’s a bad idea. This country has come together with so many different people and religions I think we need to respect it,” added Patricia Edmiston of the Bronx.
“The notion of three additional days added, that doesn’t make me happy,” said Susan Gross of Ditmas Park, Brooklyn. “That doesn’t make me happy.”
The city hasn’t added a school holiday in 27 years – since Martin Luther King Day was put on the calendar in 1986.
Public schools already observe 13 holidays, ranging from the religious, Christmas and Rosh Hashanah, to the patriotic, Veterans Day and Memorial Day, to the historic, Columbus Day.
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