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)

    Well i sit here and read all these messages and there are basicly two groups. The black people that dont want thier kids in school just because its MLK's holiday, they are just playing the RACE game. Then there is the group that knows Mlk and what he would say. He would say send your kids to school !!! Its amazing how its only the black people (some) that turn around everything he said and stood for to fit thier own racisist fears.

    January 15, 2011 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
  2. James

    The NCAAP does more harm than good.

    January 15, 2011 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Honor480

    The NAACP needs to quit whining and try to find something productive to do. I agree that to an extent MLK should be honored, but screaming racism that kids might have to go to school on his holiday is bigoted and idiotic. I remember having to go to school on Memorial Day once, but I don't recall groups that support veterans complaining that my school system was disrespecting our soldiers.

    January 15, 2011 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Toreek

    After reading some of these posts I'm going to ask that some of you consider sending your kids to school on Monday. It is clear that the more time they spend away from your negative influence the better off they will be.

    January 15, 2011 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
  5. vaboy

    this should never had made it to a federal holiday in the first place. thier have been far more important black americans than MLK. Maggie Walker and George washington Carver to name two. the naacp needs to understand that by law school is required for a minimum number of days.

    January 15, 2011 at 6:55 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Kim S

    It is definetely true!

    In Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zeeland and many other Christian countries has Good Friday and Easter as public holidays = OFF from work but not in the U.S. because Americans are hungry for money!!!

    Who cares about MLK? Yes, he's a great person but he's not the only good person in our history.

    January 15, 2011 at 7:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • LivinginVA

      We get Christmas. This is not a Christian nation. I think that everyone ought to get a certain "bank" of days that they can take on their religious holiday – they shouldn't be able to be refused for them.

      January 16, 2011 at 6:08 am | Report abuse |
    • fuji


      January 16, 2011 at 9:41 am | Report abuse |
  7. Tony

    "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."

    This is the best part of the article...and the only part that matters. This issue should not be about African-American people getting "their" day off. Rev. Crump is a wise man. Black people would do well to hear him.

    January 15, 2011 at 7:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • pat

      Well said, Tony. Education is more important than an extra day off. I agree that Dr. King would approve.

      January 15, 2011 at 8:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • LivinginVA

      One of my black, male friends is an associate prof at a college in GA – a number of years ago, that college didn't close & when people asked him if he was going to take off he said something to the effect of: I am a 23 year old black male in the state of Georgia teaching at a school I wouldn't have been allowed when MLK was alive. I see no better way to honor MLK's legacy than by going to work.

      January 16, 2011 at 6:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Nate

      It's kind of ironic that Dr. King spoke of the day when his children would "not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character," yet the NAACP turns it into a racist thing. Go figure.

      January 16, 2011 at 7:18 am | Report abuse |
    • red

      WOW! How did I ever survive without all these white people telling me how I should feel and think about anything that has to do with ME being black?

      January 16, 2011 at 8:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Liberation

      It's amazing that we live in a society today where everyone is so ready to point out the wrong yet no one wants to compromise. These same people who publicly state an injustice will be the same people who state the injustice of thier children not learning. I agree with MLK. The value lies within the individual, not in the color of thier skin. MLK wanted equality, today's people want to be treated special. It just doesn't work like that!

      January 16, 2011 at 9:49 am | Report abuse |
  8. Sweden

    OMG in Europe, everybody gets happy when there is a holiday.
    We actually ENJOY being off from work and school.

    Americans OVERWORK and the only thing they think of is MONEY MONEY and how to survive because lack of socialism.

    Average American work 30% more than average European.

    NO WAY Good Friday is not a holiday in America? I cannot believe it.

    January 15, 2011 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • frank

      The majority of American workers get no sick pay either, if you're sick, it's either go to work sick, or stay home and not get paid.

      January 15, 2011 at 11:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sick of all of you...

      It is in 90 percent of public schools. Many spring breaks also revolve around the Easter holiday. But this isn't a CHRISTIAN state, so that shouldn't matter. If parents are so offended by the holiday being cancelled, they should keep their kids out of school and take the "sick" day. Stop making this about racism and stupid Americans overworking!

      January 16, 2011 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
  9. TonySlim

    Good Friday nor easter is authorized by God. It is an invention of the Catholic church. God as nothing to do with them. Christmas included also.

    January 15, 2011 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Adam

      Hi, when you're speaking in generalities to the internet, let's keep it down to your god, not God.

      January 15, 2011 at 11:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hunky223

      There are many gods ? I thought there is only one god on earth common to all of us? think logically and you will figure out there is one X force that might have created everything around us that is what we call GOD!

      January 16, 2011 at 12:42 am | Report abuse |
    • TD

      To Adam & Hunky223 you morons know exactly what TonySlim means, so don't get stupid so that you may live a long and uneventful life. To TonySlim I agree but believe he honors it.

      January 16, 2011 at 4:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Frenchy

      I thought Sunday was God's holiday.

      January 16, 2011 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
  10. jael

    The guy did some good things but I don't think the whole country should stop because he's dead its the past we need to move forward and giving one man his own day is shallow and selfish I mean my dads spent 2 years in Iraq and is about to go to afghanistan for six months ? Where's his day?


    January 15, 2011 at 8:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • tensor

      Agreed. It had it's moment – was mostly a gift to blacks to stop them from yapping so much about reparations and more handouts. A govt. holiday ought not have anything to do with pop culture or religion.

      January 16, 2011 at 8:31 am | Report abuse |
  11. Educator

    If you read the article, making up the days at the end like we use to is pointless because you have missed days to prepare for the No Child Left Behind mandated state tests. Making up days at the end is after the fact. So much pressure is placed on districts and teachers to have a high performing school system that schools have countdowns to test days and we know that if you miss a day you miss a lot. I would think that MLK wouldn't mind students learning on his birthday and U.S. presidents shouldn't mind it either.

    January 15, 2011 at 8:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • budgiegirl

      totally agree. people forget that MLK believed that education was a piece of the puzzle. Guaranteed you can go to school, and you can honor MLK at home that evening if it is important to you as a family. Guaranteed most families would not be bothered to do so.

      January 15, 2011 at 9:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Greg

      Exactly. Not to mention he was fighting for equality. Not praising himself for being black and being important. Really what these people are advocating is that education is unimportant next to having a day off. The school district even ENCOURAGED their teachers to work MLK into their lesson plans so that their students would understand his importance. Sound like a tough choice, but a correct one.

      January 16, 2011 at 2:56 am | Report abuse |
  12. Robert Boiteau

    @ebony, well if you dont want to take your kids to school then dont, if you want to teach them at home from now on thats fine too,but ill be sending mine, getting an education is alot more important than celebrating a holiday thats just like any other day

    January 15, 2011 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Sweden


    Christmas is celebrated of Jesus birthday.
    Good Friday is the day Jesus Christ was killed.
    Easter is the day Jesus rose from the dead.

    So don't tell us that these holidays have nothing to do with God. Jesus is God.

    America is the only nation not having Good Friday as federal holiday, which I didn't know of.
    So don't tell us hundred other countries are wrong, and only America is right not celebrating Jesus Christ's holiday other than Christmas, which I'm also surprised.

    NO, American's should NOT celebrate other religions holiday, because there are ONLY less than 2% Jewish and less than 1% Muslim and other religions.

    To Jael:

    The whole country is not stopped on MLK Day. Only government offices, banks and post offices are closed, as well as most schools. Retail and everything else is still open.

    January 15, 2011 at 8:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • KMichaels

      Sweden, the 1st Amendment of the United States allows freedom of religion, which includes a freedom from religion. I am Jewish, and it is absolutely unreasonable for you to expect me to observe all your holidays and you should not be expected to observe mine. Just because more people identify as Christians does not mean that you should get every religious holiday off, while I'm forced to work through all mine.

      It's sad that you don't see how un-Christianlike that is. I'm sure Jesus would want you to completely ignore anyone who disagrees with you and force your ideals on them. It's very loving of you.

      January 16, 2011 at 2:23 am | Report abuse |
    • bigmart

      as to when easter is observed is based on the cycles of the moon anywhere from mid March to this year late April and not the actual day somebody got nailed to a cross. It has little to do with a god and more todo with a creatation of man. If anything its closers to some kind of druid or pagan celebration

      January 16, 2011 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
  14. trying to survive

    And Saturday(s) can't be a makeup day because......?. You only need to understand the area of the country to understand why the suggestion was made in the first place to have school on Dr. King's day of recognition. The powers that want to be are agressively trying to take this country backwards. Our president inadvertently opened a big can of racist and bigotted worms and it is time to squash the slimy creatures. Don't disrespect Dr. King's holiday by sending your children to school. Use that day and everyday to educate them about african-american history. Use that day to call your representatives to insist they support President Obama's agenda. He has everyone's best interest at heart.

    January 15, 2011 at 8:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lily

      You know what? White people aren't sitting around trying to think up ways to "dis" blacks. White people don't think about race much at all. Sorry to blow a hole in your paranoid conspiracy theory. BTW, nobody "celebrates" MLK on this day, anyway. Anyone who has the day off is doing whatever they would do on any other day off, and you know that. It's silly to close schools, banks, & government offices when we all know it's just another day and almost no one is even thinking about MLK.

      January 15, 2011 at 10:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tex

      That isn't so. I am not black but I truely honor Dr King. I grew up in a hispanic/black barrio. I attended predominantly black elementry and middle schools in the 60s. It is happening in that part of the country because that is where the unusual weather occured. We too here in south central Texas have to contend with the number of days we have to be in school. Here we are not allowed to start school before August 18. We seldom get snow but ice on roads, floods in the Spring and from hurricanes often require cancelling holidays. We have 187 days to get our kids educated per year and something has to give. And is true most people just spend the day at home doing nothing no matter what holiday it is.

      January 15, 2011 at 11:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • red

      @lily whites don't sit around thinking about race all the time because you don't have to. Black people like to not think about it either because it's exhausting and depressing but it only takes one person to remind you that you are black.

      January 16, 2011 at 8:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Liberation

      So what's the answer Red? What have you done to help racial equality?

      January 16, 2011 at 9:54 am | Report abuse |
  15. Rebecca

    I am Jewish – I have to say that I agree with most other here that Good Friday should definetely be a federal holiday, and is much more important than MLK Day.

    Even though I am not Christian, but right thing should be done fair. 80% of Americans are Christians, they have the right to have their holiday just like it is in Canada, Europe and all other Christian majority nations.

    I can't say we have to have Jewish holidays, because we are only counting 1.8% of the U.S. population.
    If we were 80%, then we MUST have had all major Jewish holiday.

    January 15, 2011 at 8:54 pm | Report abuse |
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