Editorial:School events determine value of MLK Day

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 22, 2004

The president of the Minneapolis NAACP says he’s concerned that while most of the public schools in the Twin Cities were closed for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, many schools in outstate Minnesota chose to remain open.

Granted, while this is a celebration for all of America, taking time off isn’t necessarily the only way to observe it. In fact, state law requires districts that didn’t close their schools to devote at least one hour to an observance of the holiday.

Representatives of the schools that stayed in session argued that students probably do think more about the holiday and its meaning if they’re in school. A day off for many students is just that: They go shopping, on recreational trips, work or some other activity.

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Sure, communities like Albert Lea have planned activities for the day, and should be commended for that. But just because the event is planned doesn’t mean students automatically show up in force.

Having school on Martin Luther King Jr. Day like some Minnesota schools did isn’t necessarily the bad thing Brett Buckner of the NAACP implies. It’s what they choose to do to observe the holiday that’s important.

And hopefully, those lessons will stick with people more than just one day of the year.