– Betty Li, Lisa Wu

On the afternoon of March 8th, EST, the newly established Chinese American Parents Association of Northern Virginia (CAPA NOVA)  had a Zoom meeting with the FCPS Board member-at-large Ms. Rachna Sizemore Heizer on the topic of whether to revise the calendar and add four religious holidays to the Fairfax County Public Schools. The two parties sincerely exchanged views on the calendar revision topic and discussed in depth the views and positions of the Chinese community on the topics related to religious holidays and ethnic equality.

Fairfax County Public School is one of the largest public school districts in the United States. Not long ago, there were proposals to revise the calendar for the 2021-2022 school year and plans to add 4 religious holidays to the calendar. The four religious holidays are: Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Diwali and Eid  al Fitr.  These proposals aroused strong responses from the local community. Supporters and opponents diverged, and to some extent caused the division of the local community.

The non-profit organization, Chinese American Parents Association of Northern Virginia conducted a poll in the community on this matter. The results of the poll showed that 92% of the opinions opposed the addition of 4 religious holidays. Based on the poll result, CAPA NOVA formed a clear opinion on this issue, stating that Chinese as a minority ethnic group, we support religion and diversified culture, equality and freedom, but oppose adding religious holidays to the school’s calendar. The primary reasons are: 1) These religious holidays only represent a small number of families, and forcing all families to suspend classes on these religious holidays will bring a lot of negative effects; 2) The addition of 4 days of holidays will affect the continuity of students’ learning and the quality of teaching; 3) It will reduce the working hours and income of some public school employees, and increase the financial pressure on these employees during the pandemic. In addition, parents of students under the age of 12 need to take time off to take care of their children, which is also a big burden; 4) According to the law, public schools can only be closed on statutory holidays and have no right to request school suspension on religious holidays.

相关阅读:  8:30-9:30PM, Wednesday, 3/6/2024, Prepared Speech Presentation ~ Lead by Coach Alice Guo and students from Impact Speakers for CAPA NoVA

On March 1, CAPA NOVA issued an open letter to the 12 school board members of FCPS, expressing their views clearly in the letter, and invited the school board member Ms. Rachna Sizemore Heizer (Member-at-Large) to start a dialogue with the Chinese community.

Ms. Rachna Sizemore Heizer attended the Zoom meeting on March 8. More than ten core team members of CAPA NOVA attended the meeting. In the meeting, Ms. Yuyan Zhou, the current president of CAPA NOVA presented the following points to Ms. Rachna Sizemore Heizer on behalf of the parents association: 1) We hope that Ms. Rachna Sizemore Heizer and other school board members will not vote to add 4 new religious holidays to the school calendar of 2021-2022.  2) increase the transparency of the decision-making process of the school board; 3) suggest that the school board consider adding an education committee of all ethnicities including representatives from the Chinese community and listen to the voices of all ethnicities.

相关阅读:  【华盛顿邮报】费郡学校关于添加4个宗教节日的讨论原地踏步

Ms. Sizemore Heizer expressed her willingness to forward the suggestions of the Chinese community to as many other ethnic communities as possible and strive for more support. She also suggests, as the voices of the Chinese community, CAPA NOVA should meet with other school board members of FCPS so that they could hear the voices directly from the Chinese community as part of the decision-making process, instead of just waiting for the final decision to come out. 

At the end of the meeting, CAPA NOVA expressed its desire to maintain dialogues with Ms. Sizemore Heizer and other school board members and to get more involved in the FCPS decision-making process in the future. Ms. Sizemore Heizer also agreed to convey our desires to the school board.

相关阅读:  Wed Aug 23, 2023, 9:30pm - 10:30pm World Championship of Public Speaking @2023-Deep Analysis Speak today; Leader tomorrow Workshop 389 ~ Lead by: Coach Mike Nie (DTM) & Laura Luo (DTM) & Mr. David Steinfeld (NASA Scientist)

The Chinese American Parents Association of Northern Virginia plans to continue to follow up the school board’s decision on the calendar issue as scheduled for March 18 and many other educational issues.

As a start-up non-profit organization, CAPA NOVA aims to be the voice of the Chinese American community, with actively participating in the formulation of administrative bills in various parts of Northern Virginia, and protecting the equality and interests of Chinese American families as its primary objectives.


By Lisa Wu

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