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Don't let Hillsborough school skippers rule Good Friday

After a majority of Hillsborough students skipped school on Good Friday, School Board chairwoman Jennifer Faliero declared an end to any debate and insisted school should be closed on the Christian holy day.

If she's right and I'm a high school senior, I'm burning up Facebook and MySpace right now to organize the largest "senior skip day" in the history of the county.

Faliero's message is clear: If you can get enough people to go along, you can subvert the rules.

Make no mistake: School district employees who took a personal day to shop, visit a theme park or soak up the sun were wrong.

The parents who allowed students to call in absent for similar reasons also share in the blame, as does the district for not being proactive and, in some cases, encouraging students to not show up.

So how should the school district respond?

The answer is as obvious as the Easter hat that lady was wearing in church Sunday.

Next year, Good Friday coincides with spring break, so the controversy over whether it should be a school holiday will dissipate.

But come 2010, the school district needs to return to a secular calendar that recognizes no religious holidays and conduct school on Good (to go to the beach) Friday.

To do anything else raises serious questions about exactly who runs the school district: right-thinking board members and administrators or wrong-headed employees and teachers hiding behind the guise of religion.

Yes, some people spent the day in quiet reverence reflecting upon Christ's ultimate sacrifice But a lot more spent the day reflecting on the tanning index and the dress sale at Macy's.

Good Friday is not a holiday for county workers. Even Chick-fil-A, an establishment that closes every Sunday, was open.

It's business as usual in the community, so it should be that way at school.

What bothers me most is that similar arguments about "the rights of the majority" were used when schools first took on integration and were plagued by absenteeism. Where would we be today if the school district had caved on that controversy?

Look, if it was easy, the word tolerance wouldn't exist.

Instead of giving in to this mentality, the school district needs to have a contingency plan.

If absences still run high, so be it. In this case, principle matters. So does equal treatment under the law.

If you must, offer incentives to teachers and school bus drivers to show up and do their jobs.

I can't believe I'm having to make that suggestion in a society that champions a blue-collar work ethic, but sadly, it's come to that.

Principals should encourage parents to send their kids to school even though the day may be different. Teachers need to send a message that learning will take place, even though traditional approaches may not be used.

Instead of just showing a movie, pick a film that illustrates doing the right thing doesn't always mean doing the popular thing.

What our students learned Friday is that you can pick and choose when you come to school, even if you don't have a legitimate reason.

Something tells me that's not on the FCAT.

So, who's up for cutting class April 20? It's National Pot Smoker's Day.

That's all I'm saying.

Don't let Hillsborough school skippers rule Good Friday 03/24/08 [Last modified: Monday, March 31, 2008 9:05am]
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