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Observance of Dr. Martin Luther King Day

February 16, 2012

The following article was posted on Ourtrilakesnews.com under the Opinions Heading. To see the complete letter, click here.

Since retiring from an administrative position with Lewis-Palmer School District 38, I really haven’t felt the need to question, comment, or discuss in public any actions taken by District 38.

But, after I learned that D-38 was observing MLK Day in the buildings and not releasing students or staff for the day as a holiday I felt it was necessary for me to share my thoughts on that decision.


Having been one of those who “built” the calendar for D-38 for several years I know how difficult it is to try to put together a schedule that meets the needs of everyone. However, to exclude MLK Day as a holiday worthy of releasing students and staff is to me a great disservice to the man and his message. I was unable to find any other district on the Front Range that did not release students and staff for this widely-recognized Federal Holiday.

Trust me, I know that few or none would have used the day off to actually travel to Memphis or Washington or Selma. I also know few would have rented films or read books about Dr. King. I am also sure that many teachers and others did an amazing “job” of teaching about Dr. King in the D-38 schools.

Then what is the point of this letter? Great Question! Simply stated … having the day off is not about going to a memorial or reading about Dr. King. It is about honoring a message of equity and equality. Just as Memorial Day is about honoring fallen service men and women. Just as Thanksgiving is about honoring family and giving thanks for all we have. Just as Labor Day honors workers and all they do. Just as President’s Day honors all of our Chief Executives and their service to the United States. Aren’t all or most holidays about honoring and reinforcing a message of some sort?

Dr. King’s Day is also about civil rights and civil liberties. It is about one person becoming the face for many. It is about being able to say that a person of color had a hand in changing this country for the better through a message of peace, love and understanding. It is about a message telling all children that their dreams can become a reality regardless of race, religion, gender, creed or ethnicity. As one minority child has shown, that dream can take you all the way to the Oval Office and become the President of the United States.

MLK Day is about honoring all of those men and women, minority and non-minority who marched, spoke, sang, prayed, wrote and died so that others could have THE DREAM that Dr. King preached about on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in a city that should and must represent the rights of all. Isn’t that the message that should be sent by having a “day off” for a national holiday honoring Dr. King?

When students have that day off from school to go skiing, shopping, to the movie or just to share some time with a parent, that child might stop and think “in D-38, we don’t just get a day off because of snow, we get a day off to honor a man who dreamed of a better world for his children and the children of others.” I would encourage the district to consider reinstating MLK Day as a released holiday (as it was in the past) and to continue using an outstanding faculty to teach about Dr. King’s message prior to the holiday release date.


Ted L. Belteau


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