OPINION: Cutting Education days dishonors King, Lee

By Hank Wiesner/Southern Sentinel

There’s a better way to honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, as well as Gen. Robert E. Lee, than to give school children the day off to sleep late, cruise town, and generally goof off.

And Blue Mountain College has found it, offering their students and faculty the option to volunteer to work that day in various community improvement projects. That’s the sort of thing that likely both Dr King and Gen. Lee would agree to.

There are lots of bright folks down at the State Department of Education. I know because I’ve dealt with them over the years. Despite all that mental horsepower, giving the school children the day off on the day representing the birthday for both men is just plain wrong.

It deprives children of a day of education. And nowadays, every child –black, white, red, brown — needs every day of education he or she can get to deal with an increasingly complex and dangerous world.

Both Dr. King and Gen. Lee recognized that education is the key to a better life, financially, culturally, and in every other meaningful way.

To deprive a child of even a day’s education in the name of honoring two men who revered it is, well, muddle-headed thinking. Taking away a day’s educational opportunity also damages the child, of course, but that’s another column.

For the past few years, Blue Mountain College has offered students and faculty a chance to work on community projects on Dr. King and Gen. Lee’s day.

Each year, a hundred or college faculty and students do various small community projects, sprucing up a cemetery, or mopping and dusting and sweeping and vacuuming. CORRECT?Among the places being cleaned up Monday were Blue Mountain High School and Elementary School — whose students were out for the holiday. CORRECT?

As usual, the local work details finished up long before noon. They returned to Blue Mountain College, where a noon meal awaited them.

Next year, why can’t the State Department of Education give both men’s birthday over to community service by area schools? Credit the day as an on-the job lesson in civics, and the value of working to help better one’s community.

And if the State Department of Education doesn’t see fit to credit the day as a school day, area public schools should consider offering a similar voluntary work program next year on their own.

Across this county there is mopping and sweeping and dusting and vacuuming to be done in schools and town halls and other public buildings. There are cemeteries to be neatened, roads to be picked up.

Helping the community, in however small a way, by the sweat of your brow, is something Dr. King and Gen. Lee would endorse. It is a far more meaningful way to recognize both men than the present state-sanctioned “hide and slide” day.

Is anyone out there listening?