It’s not ML(o)K(ay)


Photo provided by Cathleen Weng

Students in the Sioux Falls School District do not get Martin Luther King Jr. Day off of school.

Genna Sheriff, Feature Editor

The Sioux Falls School District, like many other school districts across the country observe countless holidays that honor the accomplishments of various groups from our country’s past and present. For instance, many districts across the country observe Labor Day as a holiday that honors the accomplishments of American workers. If, as a school district, we are remembering and honoring those advancements made, why are we not also honoring the accomplishments of Martin Luther King Jr. or Native Americans?

Martin Luther King Jr. made many advances for the African Americans in our country, and each year on his birthday, we look back on all that he accomplished. But, because other holidays have been chosen to be recognized instead, a portion of our student population is not being fully represented. By leaving this holiday off of our district calendar, we are diminishing the importance of what Martin Luther King Jr. did for the civil rights movement and African Americans across our country.

The Sioux Falls School District also does not observe Native American Day as a holiday, even though 4.6 percent of students in the district are Native American, according to the 2018 demographic reports. In 1990, a measure was passed to make South Dakota the first state to recognize this day as Native American day, instead of Columbus Day, in order to progress socially. Today, we recognize Native American Day as a day to honor and celebrate Native American culture. While the Native American Connections classes at LHS celebrated this holiday by planting a tree in front of the building, other students across the district did not have the chance to celebrate.

I know this may sound like an attempt to get more days out of class, but what I propose is that we take days from other school breaks instead. In March, students are given two days off for no reason. The school district could take at least one of those days away in order to give students and staff Martin Luther King Day off.

Each year, students are given time off in February to recognize the efforts each president had made during and after their presidency. During the 2017-2018 school year, this hefty break lasted four days (one of which was marked as inservice,) while Native American Day was nowhere to be found on the calendar. This school year, and the following year, our President’s Day break has since been shortened to two days set aside for the holiday. Instead, why do we not just observe the actual holiday and give the other day up to have Native American Day off?

Even if the school district does not give students these days off, they should be taught the meaning of these holidays and why we celebrate them. On those days, more effort should be made to help students understand the impact that Martin Luther King Jr. and the Native Americans have had on our country’s past. Students need to have the opportunity to celebrate these holidays and the impact those communities have made on our country.