As a kid, there were few things better than random days off from school, like Columbus Day, Veteran’s Day and Presidents’ Day. They always seemed to be somewhat vague celebrations, the meanings of which were never discussed (or discussed enough that I can recall) with my teachers, so they always just seemed like bonus holidays.
Martin Luther King Day, on the other hand, was a day off, but one that required lengthy conversations, reflections and lessons in advance. I remember seeing the footage from his speech each year, writing about it, and during elementary school, participating in an annual assembly celebrating his legacy by singing songs about peace and equality. My memories of those class units and assemblies are fond, and I’ve always felt they gave me a foundation for understanding the importance of civil rights. And that all the lessons culminated in a three-day weekend? Even better.
My mind is a little blown today upon reading that some schools in Georgia Dr. King’s home state are choosing to make their students attend school on Monday to make up for the excess snow days that were taken during a recent epic snowstorm. Fannin and Gilmer counties in north Georgia missed nine days of school because of foul winter weather, and the superintendents there say they have no choice but to hold classes this coming Monday.
To make matters worse, the Gilmer County schools superintendent has said that while his administrative team will be “sensitive” to the fact that the kids are going to school on Dr. King’s holiday, he’s unsure whether teachers will give lessons on the meaning of the holiday, according to FoxNews.com.
Apparently, the school district has not received any complaints about sending kids to school on Monday, which, they believe, is because families are suffering from cabin fever due to all the time inside avoiding the snowstorm.
Growing up in New York, most major Jewish holidays were also observed in the school district, like Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippuer and Passover. When I moved to Colorado, I wasn’t surprised that Jewish holidays weren’t school holidays, but I was shocked nonetheless one year when back to school night was held on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year on the Jewish calendar. I found it insulting and ignorant.
However, the African American population in Georgia is not insignificant, and given the fact that it was the launching pad for the civil rights movement, I think the officials behind this decision should be ashamed of themselves for not doing more to honor the memory and legacy of Dr. King and respect the nature of his holiday. What’s the lesson to the kids who will be in school on Monday, particularly if there is no lesson?
Do you think it’s disrespectful to hold school on Martin Luther King Day?
Image: Wikimedia Commons