Schools' plans for MLK holiday prompt objections
Kids got to play in the snow this week in Charlotte, North Carolina, but it's back to school on Monday, holiday or no holiday.
January 14th, 2011
04:58 PM ET

Schools' plans for MLK holiday prompt objections

Some school districts in the South are making up for  days missed because of this week's snow and ice by requiring students to attend class on Monday's Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, a decision that does not sit well with some parents and community leaders.

The issue is especially sensitive in King's home state of Georgia, where administrators in two rural districts  - Fannin and Gilmer counties - have canceled the school holiday.

"We have eight days that we've missed, and we're just in the 14th day of January," Fannin Superintendent Mark Henson said. "Here in the North Georgia mountains, history proves we have a lot of snow in January and February and sometimes into early March."

Both districts are considering canceling Presidents Day (February 21) and part or all of spring break as well, the administrators said.

State-mandated standardized testing weighs heavily on administrators' decision-making.

"With high-stakes testing that occurs in late April, we're trying to maximize instructional days before these high-stakes test as much as we can," said Michael Schlabra, director of administrative services for Gilmer County schools.

Tacking the days onto the end of the year would be pointless because they would come after the tests, Henson said.

"Those excuses are unacceptable," said Georgia State Conference NAACP President Edward DuBose. "To substitute the legacy of what Dr. King stood for, to reduce it to an inclement weather day, is unacceptable. ... (It) reflects the ultimate disrespect of an entire people."

DuBose is not swayed by the prospect of the districts' also canceling other holidays.

"Dr. King's day was bought for a high price," he said. "Dr. King gave his life for this country. He, by his work, changed the notion of how people view people of color."

North Carolina's Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools designated Monday as one of its weather make-up days when it approved the academic calendar two years ago, a statement on the district's website says.

"Teachers and principals are encouraged to discuss Dr. King and his legacy as part of their lessons on January 17 to help students understand and observe the holiday," the statement says.

The district, led by Superintendent Peter Gorman, says it is hamstrung by state law that requires schools to have 180 days of instruction and that the school year begin and end on specific dates.

The Charlotte NAACP chapter isn't buying it.

"The NAACP on behalf of the African-American and minority community is appalled and thoroughly incensed at Peter Gorman's decision to use the MLK holiday as a snow make-up day," the group said on its website. "Once again Dr. Gorman has shown total disdain and disrespect for a very significant part of this community."

The academic calendar for Nashville, Tennessee, schools allows for four bad-weather days, but this week's storm canceled five days of school. The district chose to cancel a February 21 (Presidents Day) professional development day for faculty to make up for its fifth snow day.

The Madison County, Alabama, district, where Huntsville is located, may shorten spring break and have school on Presidents Day, Superintendent Terry Davis told the Birmingham News.

In South Carolina, the Rock Hill school district will have classes not only on Monday, but also on Presidents Day (February 21), Memorial Day (May 30) and Confederate Memorial Day (May 10).

"It's not that we wanted to do any of this. I'm losing holidays, my colleagues are losing holidays just like students are losing them," Elaine Baker, spokesperson for the Rock Hill School District, told CNN affiliate WBTV.

"I was hoping we wouldn't have to use any of the designated bad weather days," she told CNN, "but God decided to make it snow in South Carolina."

The district normally would use faculty in-service days to make up for lost time, but those days were eaten up by furlough days enacted by the money-strapped district, she said.

Parents don't want spring break shortened because many have already put money down for vacations, Baker said.

"We are not intentionally defaming the memory of this American leader; that is not so. We are just encountering what I call a perfect storm," she said.

"... We of course respect Martin Luther King, as well as men and women who are going to feel badly about Memorial Day and Presidents Day."

The Rev. Herb Crump, former president of the Rock Hill Chapter of the NAACP, disagreed with the protests of the chapter's current leadership. He said King would have wanted children to be in school on Monday.

"I think that our children would be doing a disservice, and it would be a slap in the face to the life of Dr. King by sitting at home playing video games," Crump told WBTV.

soundoff (483 Responses)
  1. PartisanSheep

    Rabble rabble rabble... Maybe they could have school on a couple of saturdays. It's a toughy

    January 14, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • nowreality

      I think the kids should go to school on MLK day. They should learn all about him the whole day, instead of staying at home and playing on their PS3 and Wii. The kids should go to school on all those kind of holidays and learn about the people that shaped this country.

      January 14, 2011 at 11:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • rob

      well wouldn't learning about MLK on Monday nix going to school to study for the standardized tests? i think the Saturday makeup would be a better idea, if its the state standardized tests that are at issue here.....

      January 15, 2011 at 12:37 am | Report abuse |
    • foshizzle

      foshizzle
      This is just another excuse for the NAACP to spew its garbage rhetoric all over everyone, getting their stench on a perfectly good MLK day thats now spoiled by the real hate mongers....the NAACP

      January 15, 2011 at 7:05 am | Report abuse |
    • TheLegend11

      When are we going to have a JFK day? You would think that whole slavery issue is behind us. How much more money do we have to shell out?

      January 15, 2011 at 7:39 am | Report abuse |
    • alexander

      I agree with Nowreality; children should go to school monday and learn about MLK (all other subjects excused), instead of staying home and playing video games ! MLK would like this for sure !

      January 15, 2011 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
  2. Jim Brieske

    Im a (w)hore

    January 14, 2011 at 7:06 pm | Report abuse |
  3. meee

    Luthern? moron its luther did your parents have any kids that lived?

    January 14, 2011 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Beowulf

      Although Jim Brieske is a schmuck, Dr. King does deserve a holiday, but he also wanted children to
      learn and grow intellectually past ignorant morons of the world. I think Dr. King would want us to continue through on that day, not to defame
      or look down on a people, but to preserve the legacy of learning and intelligence that he strove for. Ok he
      cheated on his wife. Guess what there are many more leaders through out history that did as well. Get
      over it already. Look at what he accomphlished. Inspiring generations of people; black, white, asian, whoever to be who they want to be, not
      stereotyped because of their
      color or creed or religious preference. That is what that day is about.

      January 14, 2011 at 8:46 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Not Black

    So according to Edward DuBose MLK faught and died for children to have a day off from school. As if with all the snow these children already haven't had enough days off as it is.

    January 14, 2011 at 8:37 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Clif

    Haha Luthern? Are you slow, simple, stupid, or a combination of each?

    January 14, 2011 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
  6. eeb

    Dr. King was a great man...a man who valued education. This issue has nothing to do with race, the holiday would be cancelled regardless of what actual holiday is happening. Get over it and go to school, maybe while they're there can learn about Dr. King.

    January 14, 2011 at 8:42 pm | Report abuse |
  7. rosebuds

    Come on. A lot of schools don't even get mlk day off.

    January 14, 2011 at 8:44 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Cornelius

    Jim Brieske,you forgot to mention that Thomas Jefferson cheated on his wife with Sally Hemmings against her will,George Washington according to slave accounts died from a cold he caught from one of his female slaves whom he was known to "sneak"around with in the slave quarters,and John Tyler,also a former Pres.was the grandfather to Black historian,Drusilla Dunjee Houston.It cannot be denied that quite a number of our white leaders including Strom Thurmond,and many of our current political leaders are without error.King David was an adulterer,and was called by God prior to commiting the murder and act he did.Still God was able to use him.I wonder what skeletons you have in your closet?? You really need to be taught what grace is,it's a gift Jesus has offered to all of us. He said we should forgive our brother 7 times 7,meaning "until we are complete in HIM and have gotten it right with HIM!! Read the BIBLE and study history more,you are sick and need a doctor.

    January 14, 2011 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anonymous

      I'm pretty sure he was pointing out WHY Martin Luther King doesn't deserve a HOLIDAY. It does not appear to me that this issue has anything to do with race. However, it does not surprise me that someone like you would make this issue about race. Do any of the "white" people you stated have a national holiday? Not everything is about black vs. white....this is what is wrong with our country.

      January 14, 2011 at 9:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Beowulf

      Cornelius, thank for expanding on the different people there were in the same boat as Dr. King. They were all great men, they just made mistakes like we all do. But alas Jim does not need a doctor, but he needs a better education. Unfortunately lately in this country and in most states are apparently harder and harder to come by. Not because of qualified teachers, but the willingness of people to fund it.

      January 14, 2011 at 9:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Beowulf

      Anon, George Washington does. Cornelius was pointing out the fact that Jim was bashing Dr. King as a black man not a leader. It does not have to be about black vs. white, but when someone does then we are all duty bound to correct their ignorance. That was what Dr. King spoke of. That is why he has a holiday.

      January 14, 2011 at 9:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • foshizzle

      This is just another excuse for the NAACP to spew its garbage rhetoric all over everyone, getting their stench on a perfectly good MLK day thats now spoiled by the real hate mongers....the NAACP

      January 15, 2011 at 7:04 am | Report abuse |
  9. Chuck

    I feel it is a $ thing for the schools. They get paid when children attend and not snowed in.

    January 14, 2011 at 9:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sean

      We get paid if they are there or notbut the law requires students to be in school so many days.

      January 14, 2011 at 9:54 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jonell Cann

    This matter shouldn't be based on who or what holiday, the important matter is our childrens education. Maybe the school districts should consider students making the snow days up on saturdays.

    January 14, 2011 at 9:07 pm | Report abuse |
  11. mike

    Chuck, the funny thing is that according to Roman records, Jesus was arrested for being drunk and disorderly and attacking Roman guards. Funny how history remembers people huh?

    January 14, 2011 at 9:10 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Bouncer

    I think you're all stupid. I never cheated on any of my gf's yet all of you are acting like it's no big deal. If I preached God's word day in and day out I think I might keep it in my pants. Do I still think MLK was a good thing for the country? Yes. Let us stop pretending people are saints though. Everyone knows the ugly history of this planet, so let's try to fix things from this point forward.

    January 14, 2011 at 9:41 pm | Report abuse |
  13. onlyslightlyamused

    Why are they cancelling MLK day and only "considering" the other days. They've already missed 8 out of 14. Go ahead and cancel them now and there is no issue. Dollars to donuts, these school systems are not really "considering" anything...they are just saying that to make this more palatable. Yeah-i guess that song is true..the south is gonna do it again. Only this time black people aren't going to just lay down. We will fight! We have our 2nd amendment remedies as well.

    January 14, 2011 at 9:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sorry4U

      Spoken like a true moron! Im sure your list of accomplishments and contributions to this world are quite astounding. Please deliver unto us, the uneducated, your bountiful knowledge.

      January 14, 2011 at 10:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mo

      please – lay down if you want. roll over too for all anyone cares. 80% of the people in the state of GA who have mlk day off – do nothing, NOTHING to honor the man. So, if keeping kids in school that day allows a little more discussion on the topic of MLK – then that is more than those kids will ever get from home. It is not an insult that a school, business, etc would cancel a day normally set aside as a holiday – when in truth – not alot of honoring is going on when companies and schools close. also, who honors the president's with whom we have a holiday, who other than christians honor christ when we are off for christmas? give me a break – put the kids in school on that and any other holiday coming up if it will help to cover the educational process that is intended for all kids. honor mlk if you choose – not because you're forced to. oh and btw – if parents want to honor mlk on that day and think that they can do a better job than the school – by all means keep the child at home and honor on....

      January 15, 2011 at 4:18 am | Report abuse |
  14. Name*Tony

    Complain we don't spend $ educating and complain when we have to cancel a holiday. Can't win in this liberal wild west

    January 14, 2011 at 9:53 pm | Report abuse |
  15. tellingthetruth

    You Go Bouncer-well scripted!

    January 14, 2011 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse |
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