Changing Demographics and Changing the Calendar

Changing Demographics and Changing the Calendar

Aamir Jamil and Miles Mu

Millburn School District has begun to put new holidays in the calendar to match the growing diversity in the township.

Using the USA Today Index, Millburn Township Public School diversity is projected to peak at around 2026. (59.79%). This year, Diwali and Chinese New Year were off for students.

Diwali was considered staff development and due to comments from parents, Chinese New Year has changed from staff development to a day off. Columbus Day, which is in October was a half day for students but was also staff development.

The teachers had full days (with the one exception) while students got time off. Mr.Chernoski gave his opinion on Columbus Day being staff development:

I am a half Italian American and in my old district, we used to have Columbus day off. Which now has turned into a controversial event. Many Italians feel pride and I would like to go to the Columbus Day Parade just out of curiosity. But now we have Staff Development so I’d have to take a personal day off. But it gives me empathy for staff and students who don’t get off for more important holidays. 

Based on percentages, the caucasian (white) population in Millburn Schools is going down while the non-white population is going up. In 2000, 81% of Millburn was white but as of 2018, only 55% of Millburn is white. But another view on Columbus Day is from an anonymous person who said that, “We shouldn’t have Columbus Day off. It just emphasizes the destruction of the original American peoples.” Many students want the day off, but usually not for the reason of the holiday. Another anonymous person said “The majority of the students don’t care about the reasons of a holiday, they just want school off.”

Besides religious or cultural holidays, many people wanted February break to come back, which is expected for next year. Chinese New Year was and Diwali were added to accomodate the changing demographics. This year, the Asian population is at 32.66% while 18 years ago, only 10.27% of Millburn was Asian.

A possible reason for Chinese New Year being staff development before being changed is that the teacher population is less diverse compared to the student body. Mr. Serra who recently married an American who is Hindu gave his opinion on the changing calendar.

As with most families, we prefer to celebrate major holidays together… Millburn schools were closed for students so that they could also celebrate Diwali, but staff was there that day for professional development. I would have to take a personal day off in order to celebrate and my family was able to schedule our celebration around the fact that I was at work that day … I would have enjoyed having Diwali off …if students were given the day to celebrate with their families, it seems strange that staff did not.

In 2026, the Asian population will be 47% of the district while the white population will 40% of the district.

Mr. Serra also offered a possible solution, saying, “I would propose not scheduling any days off unless they are federal holidays when the government and its services are closed. Then, allot all students and staff a set number of days per year or religious observance … They can observe their holiday without worrying about missing school … but they would be responsible for missed work in a set amount of time.”