A file photo of school buses.

A file photo of school buses. Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

The city's public school system should treat the Muslim holy days of Eid ul-Fitr and Eid ul-Adha as public school holidays. After all, nearly 14 percent of our student body -- 150,000 students -- is Muslim.

The City Council has called for making the holy days school holidays. Democrat Bill de Blasio and Republican Joe Lhota -- mayoral adversaries who butt heads on most issues -- agree. But Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who runs the Department of Education, says the city needs more school days, not fewer. He makes a powerful point, too.

New York City's lagging standardized test scores and high school graduation rates say students need more instructional time. The state is ratcheting up standards. So are the feds. This is no time to be finding new reasons for students not to be in class.

This isn't a matter of state law. The state mandates a 180-day school year. The city keeps its elementary pupils in class for 189 days a year and its high schoolers at their desks for 185. So the city could add two more holidays and still beat the minimum requirement.

But in a world where knowledge is destiny -- and in a city that has supported upward mobility with uncommon intensity for more than a century -- beating the minimum isn't enough.

Here's what a Mayor de Blasio or a Mayor Lhota should do: Respect the Muslim community by adding the two school holidays to the calendar, but do it in a way that maintains overall classroom time.

We can't have 150,000 pupils out of school at one time twice a year, but we shouldn't reduce instruction for all 1.1 million city students either. The new mayor will need to talk with the City Council, the United Federation of Teachers, Muslim leaders and parent groups to find a way to accomplish both goals at once.

Just as families, unions and the city honored Christmas, Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Good Friday, adding Muslim holidays is necessary. But so is more instruction time. Would a slightly longer school day work, or adding days at the start of the school year or at the end? There must be a way to make this happen.

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