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. Tupac

    Shout out to Cyrus and Avon! You brothus speakin the truth! Ya'll got these white people shook! The funniest thing about the comments from the white people is that NONE OF THIER KID'S GO TO OUR SCHOOL'S! LOL! White people got so mad about MLK Holliday that they forgot about that!

    January 16, 2011 at 10:56 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • the truth

      I hate to tell you, but I live in rural south carolina where the white kids are the minority on one end of the county and the white kids are the majority on the other end of the county. We all go to school together. My child's school is 80-20 black, as is most of our county, so stop assuming that white kids DON'T go to school with African-American kids. There are 3 districts, and 2 of the 3 districts are primarily African-American with African American school board members and superintendents. They voted to send the kids to school on MLK day, not the minority White population in our county.

      January 16, 2011 at 7:36 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Yolanda

    @ Cyrus, Preach Brutha! White people dont eat with us, go to school with our kids or live where we live. Heck, even the Publiy Grocery Store I go to down here in Atlanta is all black! White people made it this way not us. If u move into our area we could care less. But let one of us move into the white side of town and see how you all act. WHITE PEOPLE ARE SO USED TO BEING RACIST THAT THEY DONT EVEN RECOGNIZE IT ANYMORE! It's just business as usual for them. I FEEL SO SORRY FOR WHITE KIDS. They have 2 grow up around parents who will pass down their racist ways to the next generation of white kids.

    January 16, 2011 at 11:18 am | Report abuse | Reply
  3. GPS

    And this is racist because......? Dr. King was all about the education of our youth! I'm sure he would find this argument to be laughable!

    January 16, 2011 at 11:21 am | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Bossman

    Big deal, what's the hub-bub, bub?

    January 16, 2011 at 11:29 am | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Nagger

    If you naggers could just listen to yourselves for a minute you would be pleasantly surprised by how ignorant you all are! Here's an idea, go kill each other over that 40 you stole down at the corner store. Keep your children out of school so they fall behind even more than they already are, because you were to lazy to step up to the plate years ago. Naggers are soooooooooooooo fat in the south it's ridiculous!!! Oh poor me, the white man has been keeping us down sooooo long, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah......Now what naggers? All hopes pinned on a nagger president that will be gone in no more than 4 more years. Interesting....Then what? Oh I know, back to the twinkies and chitlins...lol at all you naggers!

    January 16, 2011 at 11:43 am | Report abuse | Reply
  6. lee

    White people DO NOT sit around sending out e-mails to OUR community trying to plot against the black man. Blacks are keeping biggotry alive with ploys like this. If you want to keep your kids home, fine, that's your RIGHT. Yes, see, you do have rights, have had them for quite a while now, but then something like this happens and as a community you decide to go ahead and take A huge step backwards! Belive it or not racial realations have gotten infinatly better because if there were any real issues out there then the NAACP would not have thrown this bandwagon together for everyone to jump on. In the last 15 yrs the char-meck school system has had so few snow days that there is just no reason to expect a better plan. Its not because " the south" is racist its because " the south" doesn't get SNOW! When it does happen the schools do what they can. In this case its making up the day on the first available which just happens to be a holiday. If the snow had held off for a week this wouldn't even be an issue so I guess Mother Nature is the real racist in this whole ordeal. Its just sad to see something draw the diff colors of this country together, like the election, and belive in change just to have something as inconsequential as a snow day pull us back apart! Think about it people... Fools like the NAACP wouldn't be leaders if they didn't have followers.

    January 16, 2011 at 11:50 am | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Dick Hertz

    Couldn't make them up on Washington's or Linclon's birthday because there is no longer a Holiday in rememberence of a White Man. Linclon freed the slaves and he can't even get a day in Black History month. And they wonder why White Folks ain't a damn bit happy? The Government keeps us at each other's throats. That way we won't stand together against them.

    January 16, 2011 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Pastor Evans

    Black people just don't send your kids to school that day. Take a stand!!! This is the kind of stuff MLK stood against for us!!!

    January 16, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. John L.

    Martin Luther King Jr. would probably be appalled that kids are out of school in the first place. The man was a champion of all people, black and white, and he worked tirelessly to get equal opporutunities for his people, especially in educational equality. If he could come back, he would tell you the best way to honor is legacy would be to have EVERY child in school on MLK, not sitting at home playing video games or wandering the streets and malls of America. Sadly, the NAACP with their stance against actually having kids in school takes a backseat to an agenda pushed by self righteous sycophants. Do they every wonder why people say what they say and do what they do????

    January 16, 2011 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Nagger

      Better use smaller words or those that aren't so complex, remember who the audience is...

      January 16, 2011 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Pastor Evans

    The "Divided States" the place where white is always right and good, and black is always wrong and bad!!!

    January 16, 2011 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. shizzel

    I'm a pastor...I is gonna pastor the blames onto the white mans

    January 16, 2011 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. OJ

    If I knew that keeping my kids home for the MLK Holliday would make white people get mad, throw a temper tantrum and start crying I wold have done some more things! LOL!

    January 16, 2011 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Tuxedo

    That is completely false that we should not have it off because kids will play video games. My school has it off and on that day I am going with my youth group to San Francisco to serve homeless people. It is a complete disregard for what he stood for to just not celebrate it. People might say that I am just playing the race card to say that I think its wrong not to observe the holiday. I am not. My people were treated like animals, enslaved, and had no rights. The least we could do is have 1 national holiday to celebrate the life of the guy who made equality possible. So don't get mad if an African American person gets upset by this, they should, this is completely wrong.

    January 16, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. shizzel

    Wees gonna keep r chilluns out da skool two. Yes we can. That will learn da wite man reel gud. Give all the techins to dem lil white kidz. Don't need no gud gradz to stand in the welfare line noway. Haha sukaz. MLK! MLK! Ever wonder why america is now called an "obamanation"

    January 16, 2011 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Avon Barksdale

    Seeing black people standing together, united as one is the thing that white people fear the most in life. Most white people only see us on tv so when they meet a real black man in the flesh they dont know how to react. All those years they thought we did drugs and were in gangs. To see how real black people act is a CULTURE SHOCK for white people.

    January 16, 2011 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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