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. Amanda

    I have family in the Charlotte area and they told me last year their daughter had school on MLK day and I was very suprised. Now I don't remember them having weather like this year last year. Excuses...up here in NY we observe the holiday even though we've had snow days.

    January 14, 2011 at 10:07 pm | Report abuse |
  2. tellingthetruth

    *Tony
    What would your right be without a left?

    January 14, 2011 at 10:11 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Name*Tony

    My right would be "right"!

    January 14, 2011 at 10:16 pm | Report abuse |
  4. ThomasD

    How many of these kids do you suppose would sit at home pondering the cultural significance of either Dr. King or our former presidents anyway? How about instead of a day off in thier honor, we create an EXTRA day at school meant only for instruction on matters faced by Dr. King and the principals held dear by our founding fathers.

    January 14, 2011 at 10:23 pm | Report abuse |
  5. tellingthetruth

    You would then be left unbalanced in all your rightness.

    January 14, 2011 at 10:30 pm | Report abuse |
  6. bob saget

    Seriously people quit the BS!!! It's one day there taking off or going to school I should say. Couldn't they just revolve the day's curriculum about mlk that day and his history? Really c'mon know if they had the day off its not like there going to go visit where he gave his speech. There probably not even going probably give a damn they'll be to busy picking up the welfare check n drinking there kool-aid!! Why should we care about one day! War and the troops don't take mlk off n we shouldn't either. By no means am I racist but that BS about bringing in different ethnicity's is crap when there trying to close our damn borders n America thinks every Muslim is a damn terrorist. But this is reality we live in a world and time where these stereotypes are unfortunately true!

    January 14, 2011 at 10:58 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Captain Obvious

    Christ, these people would just do anything not to go to school. Come on.

    January 14, 2011 at 10:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Julie Worley

      20 predominantly southern States legally allow Physical/Corporal Punishment, where school employees hit children with wooden boards to deliberately inflict physical pain as punishment in 21st Century American classrooms! Schoolchildren are the ONLY GROUP OF PEOPLE LEGALLY SUBJECTED TO PHYSICAL PAIN AS PUNISHMENT! Some "School Paddling States" have "Teacher Immunity Laws" to protect school employees from criminal/civil action! There is no argument in support of physical/corporal punishment of children in schools and our nation's most trusted Children's Health and Education Organizations have issued Official Position Statements Opposing Corporal Punishment in Schools as it is harmful to the healthy development of children and an impairment to the learning environment which has resulted in injuries to schoolchildren. DEMAND U.S. CONGRESS ENACT H.R. 5628 "Ending Physical/Corporal Punishment of Children in U.S. Schools Act" IMMEDIATELY, already ILLEGAL IN SCHOOLS IN 30 STATES!

      January 17, 2011 at 12:32 am | Report abuse |
  8. Tomas

    Respect and observe mlk day. He did what all presidents and american soldiers could not do for this nation – patched its shames and died for her true definition of equal respect forall. Make the lost day in the nice summer.

    January 14, 2011 at 11:01 pm | Report abuse |
  9. HAD ENOUGH

    THE naacp ALWAYS WANTS TO MAKE EVERY ISSUE A BLACK THING! WHY DONT YOU GIVE IT A REST IT DOESNT HAVE A D- THING TO DO WITH LUTHER! WOULD YOU BE BIT-HING IF IT WAS ANOTHER HOLIDAY ?? WHY NO YOU WOULDNT ITS JUST ANOTHER CHANCE FOR YOU TO TFY TO SHOVE BLACK DOWN AMERICAS THROAT !! GET A LIFE AND GET YOU A WORTH WILE CAUSE ! GIVE THE REST OF AMERICA A REST FROM THE BLACK THANG.

    January 14, 2011 at 11:16 pm | Report abuse |
  10. ebh

    I think the majority of individuals posting comments on this issue needs to attend school on Monday along with the students who are being required to make up a snow day. The grammatical and spelling errors in many of the postings are atrocious. I think MLK is an important part of the history of our country. He wanted equality for all people. He also wanted better opportunities for our young people. Proper education is a step in that direction.

    January 14, 2011 at 11:29 pm | Report abuse |
  11. HAD ENOUGH

    @ebh, boo hoo

    January 14, 2011 at 11:34 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Mike

    Would MLK Jr. want America's youth to honor him by being in school learning or not in school playing video games and getting into trouble?

    January 14, 2011 at 11:45 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jennifer

    Kids don't appreciate what mlk day is, And most adult probably don't either. Businesses aren't closed... kids should make a day up then instead of a spring break. Parents will make excuses for there kids if the don't want them to go. I live in Ohio, and we only get 3 snow days.

    January 14, 2011 at 11:58 pm | Report abuse |
  14. RMCG

    This story isn't shocking. I've been in SW Missouri for 7+ years, and it seems as if EVERY winter the school districts around here use MLK as a make-up day, especially the rural districts.

    January 15, 2011 at 12:00 am | Report abuse |
  15. WOW

    Before you spit such hate towards each other.....People please learn to spell.

    If they are going to cancel Dr. King's national observed day then they should cancel other holidays as well. Cancelling this one day will not make up for all the days lost, so how is it justifiable. Additionally Dr. King was a great man that did good for all mankind, not just my fellow African Americans. He stood alongside Caucasians as well. What he did behind his bedroom doors has nothing to do with it. If you were able to forgive former President Clinton, who got his knob waxed in the Oval Office less than 15yrs ago, Senator John Edwards that father s child outside of his marriage while his wife was battling cancer….why prosecute Dr. King? That is between he, Mrs Coretta and the good Lord.

    January 15, 2011 at 12:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Mo

      the day has not been cancelled – and if you're going to slam folks for spelling – know this...one's morals are more important than knowing how to spell. the day is still called mlk day. it is being used in a much better way than most people who take advantage of an off day from work, school. please – how many companies close that day? how many people from those companies honor mlk? let me answer for you – not many. forgiveness isn't a part of this equation. kids are going to school that day in some systems. big deal. some kids will go on president's day too. big deal. has nothing to do with color.

      January 15, 2011 at 4:24 am | Report abuse |
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