05/06/08 — Memorial Day: District’s heart is in right place, but fix isn’t easy

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Memorial Day: District’s heart is in right place, but fix isn’t easy

The results are in and the Wayne County Board of Education has decided to give Wayne County students the day off in honor of Memorial Day.

And, now, to make up for the extra day they will have off from school, the youngsters will have to go to school for half a day on Saturday.

Now, there is nothing wrong with children having to sacrifice half their post Memorial Day weekend Saturday to remember that thousands of American men and women have died to protect them and their freedom.

It almost seems like an extremely important lesson that any parent or teacher should champion — what a great way to illustrate just what sacrifice means.

The day will present some problems for teachers and parents, who now must juggle their own schedules to handle the change. And their concern about that is understandable.

The Board of Education, because of the short notice and the proximity to the end of the school year, has little choice but to head for the Saturday option. There just aren’t enough days left in the year to find an alternative.

And the district and the school administrators have made a valiant attempt to make sure children are not penalized if they cannot get to school on Saturday because of circumstances beyond their control. But the law isn’t on the side of that, either.

So here is an alternative solution.

Make sure that any child who is absent has a notation made on his or her record that it was for Memorial Day — and when the “perfect attendance” is calculated — the miss does not count.

Stick to the change for now, and allow some flexibility with teachers who have a legitimate conflict they cannot overcome — not just inconvenience.

That way, the county recognizes what should be one of America’s most sacred holidays, and remembers that we owe a debt of gratitude to those whose families have been forever altered by war. And at the same time, we teach our children that Memorial Day is more than just another day off.

Next year, or immediately after this year’s commemoration is over, it will be time to alter the calendar, permanently. And that is an action that needs to take place right away. That way, next year, there will be no controversy or concerns.

And as much of an inconvenience as it might seem, the adults in this county have an obligation to use this as a teaching moment for our children. Let them know why the decision was made — and why Memorial Day matters.

It is the least we can do to honor those who never had the chance to live their lives after dying to protect ours.

Published in Editorials on May 6, 2008 10:37 AM