The Hillsborough County school district (Tampa) has adopted a secular academic calendar, according to which religious holidays are not free days: the school must go on. For Good Friday, however, the district announced that it would excuse all absences--whether for religious reasons or not. To complicate matters further, some parents received the news via telephone message while others did not. The result: eight in ten students failed to show up for class on Good Friday. Many pupils no doubt skipped church for the beach (and all sorts of scripture-flouting activities), while those who came to school watched movies, stared at the wall, and daydreamed about the beach. In other words, no actual learning took place. Bad move, Hillsborough County. A district that declares a secular academic calendar should enforce it. Or it should cancel school and tack the time on at the end of the year. One or the other. School days are precious and deserve serious treatment from districts, parents, and students.

"Religion doesn't explain truancy," by Letitia Stein, St. Petersburg Times, March 24, 2008

"School day turned into a mess," St. Petersburg Times, March 25, 2008

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