Friday, January 15, 2010

Homeschooling, MLK-Style

So, I got over school being canceled for 5 inches of snow, and the threat of canceling  for temperatures below 0.

I can be a bigger person.

(Yes, there's a big, however, coming.)

HOWEVER, here's yet another "I'm not used to" moment about Beaver.

Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. day is a federal holiday observed on the third Monday of January to honor one of the all-time absolute greatest leaders in American history.  In fact, there are only 4 federal holidays commemorating an individual person.  So, I would say that's a pretty big deal.

Well, this year, the snow day trumped Reverend King.

Harper will have school on January 18th.  That's not really the part that bothers me.  In fact, perhaps, being in school that day will be a good thing, providing that there is actually ample instruction about Dr. King on the day designated to highlight his life and remarkable accomplishments.

Now, just as our family tends to keep the Christmas books out all year long, I also don't limit books about Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, and Ruby Bridges to February (Black History month).  I don't want Harper, or Zane, growing up thinking that we only celebrate Jesus in December, or that the historical significance of the civil rights movement need only be discussed on Martin Luther King day or in February.  And yet, I do like that our country has a day singled out to call to remembrance the civil rights movement and, more specifically, the leader at the helm of that movement.

So it saddens me that the school board chose to use Martin Luther King Day as a makeup day for inclement weather.  The reasoning?  That we may have more snow days coming and not enough extra days to make up for them at the end of the year.

Um, that's not Martin's fault.

George Washington fought for freedom and inalienable rights, too.  Maybe he'd give up his day for Reverend King?

Maybe I'm just being all dramatic-Joline again.

Perhaps you've not given any thought to it.  If you haven't here are some links to some kid-friendly movies and books (easiest enough for Zane to listen to) that you may want to share with your children.  Harper read these to Zane tonight and then I shared with them what it means to be a racist.  Yep, even Zane.

Ruby Bridges (film)
Be forewarned.  I cried during this film.  My daughter actually had to comfort me because I was so very livid.  If you don't know, Ruby was actually threatened with being poisoned by a protester as she entered school.  She was told she would be hung.  One person actually stood outside the school holding a coffin the size of a baby doll.  Inside that box? A black baby doll. 

Martin's Big Words

A Picture Book of Martin Luther King

Coretta Scott


I Am Rosa Parks

I hope the school will choose to teach our children well on Monday.  I am disappointed that Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Day doesn't seem to warrant the same importance as, say, making sure the kids get out of school on June 4th.  Or that it doesn't carry the same weight as other federal holidays. But, I have to trust that the school will have a planned curriculum to commemorate the day.

Please don't treat it as an after-thought.



Stace said...

WE HAVE THE SAME HEARTBEAT, I TELL YOU! I could imagine myself writing this post! In the words of Jo, "I feel a post coming on."
Here are a few other good ones The Day Gogo went to Vote by Elinor Batezat Sisulu, The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles, Moses:When Harriet Tubman het her people to freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford

Steve said...

Very well composed. Really nice, and in true MLK style in the tone of an appeal with no anger or bitterness.

karen said...

Well, I'll play devil's advocate a little wee bit. ;) One, we lost President's Day due to snows well as part of Spring Break (how's that for sacred cows being destroyed?). And as far as federal holidays go, there are several that most non-federal employees (students included) simply do not get. When was the last time schools were closed on Columbus Day? At least I've never seen any here closed for that. Or let me rant on my personal favorite...Veterans Day. You want to talk about a neglected holiday. No one knows when it is, why it is, no one gets it off, no one so much as says "thank you" to the veterans they may get the point.

I'm NOT saying that MLK Day isn't important. I'm not even saying that Dr. King himself was not important (although certainly there were many others who contributed to the Civil Rights movement who perhaps could have been equally deserving of a "day."). I'm just saying it's not the only holiday lost to snow make-up days, and it's not the only federal holiday that gets overlooked at times.

(And I like Morgan Freeman's view of Black History month...and actually his view of people and race in general.) ;)

Cuppa Jo said...

Hi all, thanks for commenting.

Karen, I appreciate the devils advocate - I play it often.

On this, one, though, I just can't go there.

We live in a VERY white area now with not alot of diversity to speak of, having left Chicago for Beaver, so the action to demote the day is just too loud and clear for me to ignore. THIS is the type of area that NEEDS to be educated on the importance of Rev. Dr. King. Maybe I'll help organize something next year - can't be a complainer and do NOTHING, right?

Veterans Day was big here, anything Revolutionary War (GW) is big here - AMERICA is very big here.

So, this is a a huge chunk of AMERICANA that I just think got lost and was indeed CHOSEN by our school board for a demotion.

So I'm wondering if the difference that you have experienced, say with Veteran's Day has to do with area of the country, maybe?

Wonder if demographic plays a role in the importance of the holiday?

That would be an interesting discussion, wouldn't it?

karen said...

Indeed, an interesting discussion! That is interesting. I've never seen Veterans Day get any play at all. Anywhere. My SIL lives on the opposite side of the country from me. When she made up little gift bags for veterans that worked in her office and told them, "This is just to say thanks," the response she got was that NO ONE had ever done ANYthing for them on Veterans Day--not even a thank you. And I found that incredibly sad. And even though I live in a very conservative area right smack in the Bible belt, Veterans Day doesn't get much press. So I'm very surprised (but in a good way) to hear that somewhere it actually DOES. That's kind of neat. :)

But as I said, Presidents' Day has been dethroned here. And although the fact that it is a predominantly white area *MAY* have influenced the "demoting" of MLK Day, it may *NOT* have either. I would say have a conversation about it with the "powers that be", definitely. Find out. And if indeed something needs to change, well, you have your crusade. :) Go get 'em! ;) But it may have been just as arbitrary as when my school district took Presidents' Day to make up for snow; it was a day and it was there. Certainly you know your own area better than I do. But sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. And sometimes a snow make-up day is just a snow make-up day.

But DEFINITELY good luck being an influence if it does indeed turn out that you need to be! Perhaps God has placed you there at least partially for that if it does indeed turn out to be the case. :)

I'm done now, I promise (sorry for the length!!!).

Cuppa Jo said...

Karen, I LOVE the length and thought put into your comments. Thank you!