No, Diwali should not be a statewide holiday in all NJ schools (Opinion)
Last month the Edison Township Public Schools Board of Ed approved making Diwali a holiday for the 2018-2019 school year. That means all Edison schools will be closed that day in November. That's fine for them. Local control. A large Hindu population. Yet that wasn't enough. Now Hindus are pushing for all public school districts across New Jersey to adopt Diwali as a school holiday statewide.
Hindu statesman Rajan Zed spoke of the importance of a Diwali holiday in New Jersey schools. Zed says that all students being off on Diwali will bring awareness to other religions and make our students well-nurtured, well-balanced, and enlightened adults.
Okay, but will they be educated adults? This school year saw many districts struggling with bad weather to just get in the necessary 180 day requirement. Do we want to accommodate every minority religion with more gaps in a school schedule's consistency? November is a difficult month to begin with. You have the usual four day weekend for Thanksgiving and you also have the four day weekend for the teacher's convention in Atlantic City. The start-stop-start again schedule of that month is something my own children's teachers have not been thrilled with in the past. Not to mention all the time taken up weekly with things like character education and HIB assemblies. It's tough enough for teachers to find the time to educate in those 180 days when they have been further tasked with taking on the role some parents abdicated. Further scheduling disruptions for a holiday most students don't celebrate will not help.
Again, if it's a district with a heavy Hindu population like Edison that's a different story. That can be accommodated on a local level. To argue for a statewide holiday for Diwali when 97% of the state doesn't celebrate it is ridiculous. According to Pew Research Center's Religious Landscape Study in 2014 only 3% of the New Jersey population is Hindu.
Zed is urging Gov. Murphy and his administration to add Diwali as an official holiday in all of New Jersey's public schools and to even persuade private, charter and independent schools to do the same. Would it end there? “The List of Religious Holidays Permitting Student Absence from School” of the New Jersey State Board of Education lists 19 Hindu holidays. So Hindu students will have an excused absence if their parent pulls them out for Diwali or any of the others. Will we later add Chaturthi? Or the nine days of Navaratri? All to make the vast majority who don't follow or celebrate this religion more aware of it?
Leave it to local control. That's my opinion. What's yours? Take our poll below.
Jeff Deminski can be heard with Bill Doyle on New Jersey 101.5, every weekday, from 2 to 7 p.m. Listen live online here at NJ1015.com or on the NJ1015 app. Follow Jeff on Twitter. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. The opinions expressed here are solely those of Jeff Deminski.
More from New Jersey 101.5