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Who is Included?

Cultural Biases in the ICSD Academic Calendar


Case Study at a Glance

"Who is Included" examines how cultural biases may inform which holidays are included in the Ithaca City School District academic calendar. In this case study, fourth-grade students from South Hill Elementary explored what it means to be included and feel valued; analyzed academic calendars from regional school districts; and interviewed local community leaders to examine how cultural holidays are observed by school districts.
Simultaneously, seniors from Lehman Alternative Community School (LACS) developed a survey that focuses on students' views on religion and culture, and how both are represented throughout the ICSD. More than 580 students in third through 12th grade responded to the survey.

Together, the students from South Hill and LACS analyzed the survey results and developed a three-part proposal for the district. In February 2019, the group presented their findings and proposal to the ICSD Board of Education.

Third-grade students from South Hill present case study proposals to Board of Education
Students present to the Board of Education
Chris Barley
South Hill Elementary
Facing Bias Group
LACS Seniors
Equity Teacher Leader
Simnia Singer-Sayada

Compelling Question

Whose holidays are included in our ICSD calendar?

Key Ideas

While the ICSD boasts that it is inclusive and tolerant, the district calendar is geared entirely toward the dominant culture. The fact that all school breaks are geared to one religion/culture is contradictory to the value of inclusiveness in the ICSD.

Enduring Understanding

People who support closing schools for Jewish, Muslim, or Chinese holidays believe that doing so promotes tolerance, multiculturalism, and equality.

Civic Participation Standards
  • Demonstrate respect for the rights of others in discussions and classroom debates, regardless of whether one agrees with the other viewpoints.
  • Participate in activities that focus on a classroom, school, community, state, or national issue or problem.
  • Identify a situation in which social actions are required and suggest solutions.
  • Identify people in positions of power and how they can influence people's rights and freedom.   

Presentation to the ICSD Board of Education

Student Proposals 
Create culturally inclusive ICSD calendar
School closure over Eid, Yom Kippur, and Rosh Hashanah
Increase culturally responsive policy and practice
Increase culturally responsive teaching practices in grades K-12
Provide clarity on policy and practice on assignments due during cultural celebrations