(BALTIMORE, MD, 11/13/19) — The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, yesterday submitted testimony urging Maryland’s Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) Board of Education and Superintendent to add the Islamic holiday of Eid back to the academic calendar for the 2020-21 school year.
Despite the board’s decision in 2015 to close schools for students on days when Eid lands on a school day, none of the three proposed MCPS calendars being considered for the 2020-21 school year include a day off on May 13, 2021 for the holiday.
The school board has cited concerns over a potential conflict with the College Board’s AP exam schedule and is awaiting a response from the AP Program administrators to their request to not schedule AP exams on this date.
The written testimony by CAIR Director of Maryland Outreach Zainab Chaudry stated in part:
“Tens of thousands of Muslim students attend MCPS, and unfortunately our communities are wondering once again whether they will have to make the difficult decision of choosing between their commitment to excellence in education, and their faith.
“I understand that a potential conflict with the 2021 AP exam schedule is a concern, and would like to recognize the Board President Ms. Shebra Evans and Superintendent Dr. Jack Smith’s letter dated November 5, 2019 to the College Board requesting that May 13, 2021 be excluded as an AP exam administration date. Numerous intra- and interfaith allies have also contacted this body with the same request, or are in the process of doing so.
“In our written and verbal communications with the College Board, CAIR proposed a compromise solution requesting consideration for exam administrators to offer the dozen or so school systems which close for Eid the flexibility to move the exam date to the following week in 2021 if necessary.
“We are optimistic that a resolution will be reached; however, based on the College Board’s schedule, a decision may not be made before you vote on the 2020-21 academic calendar.
“To that end, CAIR respectfully urges you to follow in the example of school systems in Baltimore and Howard Counties, and make a permanent decision to close schools for students on Eid when it lands on a school day in the future.”
Earlier this month, CAIR also contacted the College Board with the same request, in order to achieve equity and remove any obstacles for the dozen or so school districts that close nationally for students on Eid.
SEE: CAIR Sends Letter Requesting College Board Avoid Scheduling AP Exams on Eid al-Fitr
Last week, the Baltimore County Board of Education came to a historic, unanimous decision to close public schools for students on Eid holidays on the rare occasions when they land on a school day. The county is home to thousands of Muslim students who attend public schools.
SEE: CAIR Applauds Maryland School Board’s Decision to Close Schools on Muslim Holiday
Howard County public schools have also approved a day off for Eid on the 2020-21 academic calendar.
“CAIR is working with the College Board to achieve a compromise,” said CAIR Director of Maryland Outreach Zainab Chaudry. “Meanwhile, we urge the school board to follow through on its commitment to inclusivity and equity and approve adding Eid back to the academic calendar. In a pluralistic society like ours where people of different faiths and backgrounds are increasingly impacted by school policies and decisions, it’s critical for school boards to consistently demonstrate equal and fair treatment of its diverse student body.”
CAIR’s mission is to protect civil rights, enhance understanding of Islam, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.
La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.