The separation of church and state is an important civics lesson that many of my Muslim friends on Facebook are ignoring as they celebrate Mayor Bill de Blasio's decision to declare school holidays on the Muslim holy days of Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha. By recognizing the celebrations of Christians, Jews, Muslims, and the Chinese, but pointedly not Hindus, the New York Public School system has set up a hierarchy of religions that belies the equality of citizenship our children are supposed to be learning in school.
Don't get me wrong, as a first generation Muslim in North America I missed my fair share of classes and had to hand in many assignments early because I chose to take the day off from school on Eid. I acutely remember feeling sorry for my friends who made the opposite decision. It seemed to me that they were being forced to pick school over their religious faith. It affected my identity as a Muslim and I'm sure they felt disadvantaged as well. However in adulthood I've come to realize that there are other ways short of declaring a school-wide holiday that would reasonably accommodate Muslims and those of other faith groups in celebrating their religious observances.