May 21, 2013

Maine Voices: Next year's Portland school schedule makes diversity a low priority

To set the first day of classes on a Jewish high holiday is to say tolerance isn't all that important.

By Jacob Fogel

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I find it quite ironic that in Portland, a city that takes pride in its cultural diversity and melting pot environment, that a mistake such as scheduling the first day of school on a holy day can be shrugged off so easily by the collective shoulder of the School Committee.

I could ask any second- or third-grader from the community what should be done about this, and the simple reply would undoubtedly be, "Why not just change the first day of school?"

It comes down to simply doing the right thing. If the Portland Public Schools is going to seek out good press and receive grant money or being multicultural, then the School Committee needs to at least try to make sure that the people who make this school system diverse are respected.

If this mistake is allowed to remain uncorrected, we as a community will be taking a very big step in the wrong direction with regard to cultural tolerance.  

I am a Jew, but I am also an athlete, a student, musician, brother, son and friend. But on Sept. 5, 2013, along with many other children in the Jewish community here in Portland, I will be known as only one thing: absent.

Jacob Fogel of Portland is a Portland High School junior.


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