My daughter has no school today. Our school district is closed in observation of Yom Kippur and the school calendar lists the reason for the day off as “Yom Kippr” to which I say: right on. Not only that, but the days off at the end of December are called a “Holiday Recess” and when we have “that random Friday off” (as one of my colleagues called Good Friday) in April, it is indeed labeled “Good Friday.”

This is in contrast to the neighboring school district in which I work. This school district once made national news for religious intolerance (one of the elementary schools had a Christmas Tree in the foyer–I think you see the problem), and ever since, has been running scared. Although the Jewish holidays are not scheduled as days off, we are sent an e-mail right before every one reminding us not to mark anyone absent for religious observation. The days off at the end of December are called “Winter Recess” and, more ridiculously, Good Friday IS a day off and that single day off is called “Spring Recess.” This same school district has a special religious task-force that researched our residents’ religions and produced a list of days likely to have religious significance: included is December 23–a holy day for Mormons celebrating Joseph Smith’s Birthday.

I am all for religion and days off. I just wish everyone would talk straight about it. Call it what it is. Stop dancing around. When one of my students missed almost a week of school last year to do the Hajj, his family didn’t say a word. His classroom teacher was very concerned at his unexplained absence; it could have easily been avoided with a note saying the days off were for religious observance, but that school district just doesn’t seem open enough about days off for the family to feel that was an OK thing to do.

Let’s get serious: no one argues with a day off, right? Let’s just be honest about why we take them.