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. Jim

    Figures the idiots at the NAACP would oppose children being in school during MLK day. I think Dr. King would have wanted kids in school, to fulfill the dream that he died for. Too bad the NAACP doesn't get it. Too bad they are so concerned with political correctness that they overlook what Dr. King stood for and have lost touch with the thing that blacks need more than anything else to achieve the very greatness that is in them; education. The NAACP is just another terrorist group trying to use its political leverage to keep the black man down.

    January 15, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  2. David

    When I was growing up in the 1960s Dr. King's work and message were spoken of with great respect and reverence in our family's home. Although I was too young at the time to understand the significance of his work when he was alive, as an adult, when I read about him, I came to see that MLK stood not only for equality but for empowerment, particularly empowerment of poor people (he was, in fact, supporting a strike of sanitation workers, in Memphis, when he was killed). In our society, a big part of empowerment is education and training. From this perspective, I believe that using the MLK Holiday to make up a snow day or as a day for educational enrichment would be very much in keeping with Dr. King's message and his life. Furthermore, I believe that it would in keeping with Dr. King's philosophy for all students to observe The MLK Holiday by either studying or providing community service instead of using the holiday as an occasion for playing on the computer or hanging with friends. Just my opinion for whatever it is worth.

    January 15, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  3. dave

    Should have been James Earl Ray holiday anyway.

    January 15, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jamal

    @ Shavon Jones, EXACTLY! And Shavon right next to the money is the POWER issue. The white people on here dont care about our kids missing a day. Most of us live in different neighborhoods and our kids go to different schools anyway. The problem is that they are mad that they want us to do something and we arent gonna do it. White people send your kids to school on Monday. Our kids will be in OUR school's Tuesday morning.

    January 15, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Unlimited Knowledge

    Wow, I'm black, but yet I can't believe the way the rest of you are acting. I live in georgia, but out where I'm at, we aren't going 2 school. People in atlanta should be happy that school will be open. And even if we are all coming together,its not even really for a good cause. Keeping your kids away from school will only hurt them. And I agree with "wow", they were just choosing the next holiday on the calender, which just happened 2 be MLK's holiday.

    January 15, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • christopher head


      January 15, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jaded in Atlanta

    I keep reading "kids are out of school too much" Honestly they aren't. They're summers are shorter than many of the summers we had as children. Teachers are not teaching the same kids you all went to school with. Breaks are needed to maintain the sanity of the teachers and the children. Stop using the school as a free babysitting service and educate your children at home first!

    I do feel classes on Saturday are a better option. Plus it will make up the days a lot sooner!

    January 15, 2011 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  7. the dictator

    I am outraged the NAACP would rather cancle Memorial Day or choose children to miss days of spring break when these are true holidays that promote family time. I support holding school on MLK day. It is not a true holiday observed throughout the US, and is NO DIFFERENT than Mothers Day, Presidents Day, or Secretarys Day. It is a Hallmark Holiday. Educate our children they way Dr King, and all other world leaders would want. NAACP is ignorant to make millions of children supper for "their" political gain!

    January 15, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Trayon

    @ Jamal – I FORGOT ABOUT THAT! Most of us still live in areas that are either all black or all white. And all of the schools are the same way. WHY ARE WHITE PEOPLE WORRIED ABOUT OUR KIDS AND WHAT WE CELEBRATE IN OUR SCHOOLS? Sorry but you wont see any black kids in school on Monday. Actually u wouldnt have seen any black kids at your schools anyway.

    January 15, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Unlimited Knowledge

    Man, listen to yourselves! You all sound so ignorant. What is keeping kids out of school really gonna prove? Dr. King would have wanted them 2 go to school anyways.

    January 15, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Drinker

    Kids will probably learn more about MLK Jr Day in school anyway.

    January 15, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • luvaboykells

      @Drinker...Im sure you went to school...they only teach you about him in Feb...cause its so called Black History soon as March 1 hits...learnin about black history has to wait until next year...But a special thanks to all the great teachers who teach black history all year round! You truly are the Best Teachers around!!

      January 15, 2011 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Ralph W

    Great use of time

    January 15, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Leon

    My girls wont be in school on Monday. Me and my wife already talked it over. After all of these comments white people think we are gonna change our minds because they are mad. Not gonna happen. Take your kids to YOUR schools on Monday and we will take our kids to Our schools on Tuesday.

    January 15, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Drinker

      I hope your kids have better grammar then you do. If not, they need to go to school on Monday!

      January 15, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • itdontmatter

      Isn't that the complete opposite of what MLK's speech was about? I have a dream......

      January 15, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
  13. itdontmatter

    I'm in Illinois and the kids get off for Kashmir Pulaski's Birthday Who is that? nobody cares and I forgot.

    January 15, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  14. David

    Aren't so many of these posts oozing with ignorance, and intolerance for the views of others! And to think that someone like MLK gave up his life for our deeply polarized country where nobody seems to want to do anything but point fingers, demand that everyone conforms to their personal views and insult others if they are in disagreement. Maybe if people could agree to disagree on this and so many other topics and we could all observe The MLK Holiday in our own ways, we could have some intelligent dialogue and come up with some creative solutions to our societal problems and each take some personal responsibility for working on solutions, which I don't see a great deal of, based on some of these vitriolic, insulting and overly emotional postings! Sarah Palin, Glen Beck and Rush Limbaugh are not the only ones acting vitriolic!

    January 15, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • luvaboykells

      @David Amen!!!!!! ....You couldnt have said it any better....I was letting some comments get under my skins...I read your post and made sure I checked myself. I dont wanna act like that or be disrespectful.

      January 15, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Trina

    My kids are gonna stay home for MLK Day. White people dont get so upset. Just let your kids go to school on Monday and dont worry about what we are doing with our kids.

    January 15, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
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