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School, schmool — Hillsborough calls it a holiday despite that whole pesky "fairness" thing

Sometimes I feel like I live in a good-sized metropolitan area with the mind-set of Mayberry.

Sure, Hillsborough County has big-time sports, Super Bowls and high hopes for attracting the 2012 Republican National Convention.

We also have sinkholes and U-pick strawberries, and we let our kids out of school for the state fair. We balk at the very idea of paying for rail, even as we stand around the pickle barrel at the general store grousing about the price of gas.

(Okay, around the cash register at the mini-mart. We're not that small-town.)

And we will not, will not, go to school on Good Friday. Not even when it's an official school day on the official school calendar that was designed to be nonreligious and, therefore, more fair to everyone.

(Yes, there are other religions out there. Honest.)

While Good Friday was not an official school holiday, we pretty much decided it was anyway. Not everyone — some parents actually expected their kids to go to school, it being, you know, a school day and all.

But nearly 70 percent of high school students did not show up, nor did 47 percent of middle schoolers and 25 percent of elementary kids. Nineteen percent of bus drivers weren't there, and substitute teachers cost the district about $68,076.

Call it our annual spring sickout.

Wait a minute, you're saying. Why not sidestep the whole ugly kerfuffle by scheduling spring break for the week that includes Good Friday, like last year?

If only it were that easy. FCAT schedules can interfere with such practical planning, like next year, when it appears this may be the case.

And we get to do it all over again.

Now here is the hypocrisy in all of this: While students were permitted to miss school that day for religious reasons, local churches and services were not exactly overflowing with young attendees and their parents on Good Friday.

But I hear the lines for pepperoni slices at Sbarro at WestShore Plaza and parking spaces at Clearwater Beach were.

Kids will tell you they pick up the drift, unspoken or not, that there is no good reason to go to school that day.

Teachers? Many of them do not want to penalize students whose parents keep them out of school, so they don't do a whole lot of teaching that day.

Disney movies? Sure. Lessons? Not so much.

And if there's no teaching, why go? Even parents start to wonder.

So there's your vicious cycle.

Those who would have Good Friday as an official day off should remember: That would open up legitimate requests from people of other religions for their holidays. And away we go down that road again.

Now the same School Board that suffered mightily — not to mention politically — in creating the current calendar is left with a dilemma:

Stick to what it came up with in hopes that folks will get it, even if grudgingly.

Or cave on a day when, at the moment, a whole lot of students just don't show.

Some School Board members have said they need another year's worth of numbers before they decide. Good. Here's hoping that, in the end, we show that even little big towns like ours can evolve.


School, schmool — Hillsborough calls it a holiday despite that whole pesky "fairness" thing 04/06/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 6, 2010 7:22pm]
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