This blog was added to the Top 50 Native American Literature Blogs. Scroll down to the "Rest of the Best" after the Top 5

Friday, March 21, 2008

Equinox Letter, 2008 by CFT

As has happened several times over the years, I received a call from one of the schools my children attend. It call reminded me to "please call when my child is absent." It was Equinox, a holiday for me. Here is my response.


As you know, I send a note the first day of school to all the teachers and administrators of all the schools my children attend with the days they will be absent due to our holidays. This year, only one day fell on a school day - Today.

This week, one of my children was absent on Monday and Tuesday due to illness. On Tuesday, when I called him in sick, I took the moment to remind the staff that my children would be absent from school on Thursday due to the Equinox. I don't usually call at all. And, I certainly don't expect to be interrupted on the morning of the event by a phone call from this same school which I have already notified (along with the other schools) in writing on day one. It sends a message to my children that I (or they) are doing something "wrong."

I am emailing you because I see this as an institutional issue. It's a privilege to have one's holidays known, observed, understood, recognized, and scheduled as "off." I don't have that privilege, and yet I expect our days to be treated with the respect they deserve.

I would love to have a year where all the professional staff (including office personnel) respond knowingly and positively to the days set aside by all people (not just me) who celebrate holidays at different times than the mainstream, typical person. Jewish holidays are considered when testing and homework is scheduled, so someone is keeping track of something. I've been writing this letter and taking these holidays for 11 years now. Why is this so difficult year after year after year? It just seems that some kind of staff training needs to happen.

The other two schools did not contact me. I am assuming they knew what was going on and marked my children with a personal/religious or something absence. I hope so, particularly at the high school level.

How can education become equitable, when inequities are not recognized and actions are not taken to level the playing field?

Thanks for listening,