Significance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day Lost on Glen Rock BOE

The decision to hold classes on the national holiday is insensitive and out of touch.

Has the significance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day been forgotten by the Glen Rock Board of Education? This is the message the board has sent with its decision to hold classes on this day (to make up for the lost school days after the tragic events of Hurricane Sandy).

This decision, made by administrators concerned about effective spacing between breaks, is unquestionably insensitive and out of touch.

A singularly American holiday of reverence established only 30 years ago, this is a day to honor the legacy of Dr. King, to be inspired by him through a commitment of service, to remember where we have come from, extend our hands of friendship, broaden our community, and understand what work we still need to do.

Have our school board members lost sight of the importance of this day, knowing that it took until 2000 for the last state to make this date an official state holiday?

While the board also suggested classes would be used as an opportunity in school to discuss the significance of the day, the same could be said of President’s Day or any other holiday.

Should we not hold a half-day session on the most solemn of American holidays, Memorial Day, to be reminded that it is not simply the start of summer but instead a day to honor the sacrifice of the brave men and women who have died to protect our nation? Have we forgotten the struggles faced and overcome by our bravest citizens?

Sadly, we are treating this day like any other day off.

Some of the greatest life lessons are not taught in school and my family will be volunteering in our community on that day.

At the very least, the Glen Rock Board of Education should not mark any student as absent who will be participating in an event in their community since they will be doing more than just discussing the significance of the day. If you are looking for opportunities to volunteer on that day, you can visit the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service web site.

I sincerely hope that the Glen Rock Board of Education reconsiders this decision and instead selects Friday, February 15th as the alternate make-up day.

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Brian January 04, 2013 at 01:50 PM
You nailed this one. Prepaid vacations to worship Mickey Mouse have won out over a chance to celebrate a great American whose fight for peace and justice occurred in the lifetime of many of the people in our community. The celebration put on by Ridgewood/Glen Rock is excellent and I strongly recommend that Glen Rock work with the committee to send students who are interested. For years a teacher at Indian Hills (which never had off for the holiday) brought a bus of kids to join the celebration because she felt strongly that it should be a day of remembrance and service.
jp1 January 05, 2013 at 11:15 PM
Why not dedicate the school day to MLK,then maybe it will not cause a problem if one has the day off or not.
ML January 06, 2013 at 01:51 AM
Well said, Sean and Brian.
Ridgewood Mom January 06, 2013 at 04:45 AM
Andrea January 06, 2013 at 11:58 AM
Aw come on... Seriously, do you really think when the kids get a day off from school they are embracing the meaning of why? NO! They are thrilled to get more screen time in. Be Real. At least in school, the teachers can educate them on the importance of Martin Luther King.
VKC January 06, 2013 at 07:02 PM
The same can be said for every holiday, as mentioned Memorial Day, July 4th, Thanksgiving, what used to be Easter break (bunny rabbits and egg hunting? seriously?) and don't me started on Christmas. Are you willing to give up any of those days? NO! Since February 15th is available is should be used instead.
Andrea January 06, 2013 at 09:24 PM
Got no plans on MLK DAY? come to a Puppet Show, The Town That Fought Hate, Presented by the Woman's Club of Ridgewood. Procedes go to charity: http://ridgewoodwomansclub.com/2012/12/27/the-town-that-fought-hate/
Rabbi Neil Toww January 07, 2013 at 03:34 PM
As with all holidays, whether national, religious, or 'Hallmark Holidays', the reality is that if families do not exercise the values encoded within these days on a regular basis, each special day, however meaningfully observed, will be a brief spark followed by a return to 'business as usual'. While I'm not 100% happy with the decision to schedule school on MLK Day, I also know that if parents want to take their kids out to attend the Ridgewood-Glen Rock MLK program or to do a community service project, that this absence would be a worthwhile use of time. And let's make pursuing justice for all people a year-round project, for youth and adults alike.
Brian January 07, 2013 at 04:28 PM
For anyone who has not previously attended the Ridgewood-Glen Rock MLK Day celebration, it is a great community event in 4 parts: --In the morning there is a service of remembrance modeled on the church-based assemblies of the Civil Rights era. There are powerful sermons along with great music. --The group then goes outside for speeches in the park and a march through Ridgewood while singing "We Shall Overcome." --The next step is a donated lunch and time for fellowship. --Finally there is usually a nationally recognized speaker in the afternoon to teach on the subject. Many years this is someone close to Dr. King or who is now working in Civil Rights. The founders of the event lived the Civil Rights movement and some even marched with Dr. King. The rest of the committee consists of volunteers from throughout our community including representation from clergy of all faiths. This event should be part of the yearly calendar for anyone who believes in our community and in the goal of peace and justice. I strongly encourage GR students to use the schedule as an "excuse" to attend at least a few hours of this event. Ridgewood students would also help demonstrate the importance of this holiday by attending. Again, check the schedule, and come for even an hour. Attendance by our community and students is the best way we can demonstrate our celebration of this holiday.
Beth Fernandez January 07, 2013 at 06:48 PM
Thanks for speaking up Sean. When I first heard there would be school that day it felt wrong right down to the bone. I respect the position the BOA is in after the storm. I know it must have been a tough decision for them, but I disagree with the day chosen. It's such a special day, especially if you take part in the Ridgewood-Glen Rock MLK March, which is unbelievably cool.
Donzaleigh Abernathy January 15, 2013 at 09:01 AM
Hello Citizens of Ridgewood/Glen Rock, New Jersey: Having personally known Martin Luther King, Jr. and grown up in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement, like many of you, I was also disappointed to read that the Glen Rock Board of Education was requiring students to attend school on Martin Luther King Day, in order to make up for school days lost to the storm. In life, there will be many "storms," but the question is how will we choose to make up for the time lost? As 2013 is the 50th Anniversary of the March On Washington, hopefully the Glen Rock Board of Education will use this as an opportunity for teachers to teach children about the struggles of the Civil Rights Movement for Freedom, Justice and Equality for all American, in the quest for the integration of public transportation, the Civil Rights Bill of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Public Accommodations Act and the enforcement of the 1955 Supreme Court decision Brown v. the Board of Education to integrate schools in 1965. Hopefully, students will learn about the principles of NonViolence, Civil Disobedience and about Emmett Till, a young boy of 12 in 1955, who whistled at a white woman and was taken from his grandfather's home in the night, beaten, tied to a cotton gin and drowned in the Tallahatchie River. Hopefully, MLK Day will be a day of learning, compassion, understanding and forgiveness in Glen Rock, New Jersey.
Fan of Ridgewood January 22, 2013 at 12:22 AM
Im late in posting, but MLK day should not have been compromised.


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