Columbus Day and Schools

I understand the issue with Columbus Day. No, the guy wasn’t a saint, and yes, he did a lot of bad things. And, maybe he shouldn’t have a holiday, but for right now, he does, and many people get that day off. Either way, a holiday is a holiday, and when it comes to the local school district, they need a holiday in October, so there you go.

Except, there is a very big push here in Denver to get Columbus Day wiped off the books. The parade triggers a massive protest every year, and there are speeches and government officials, and, and, and… However, as of this year, Columbus Day is a legal, holiday observed by both business and government. It most definitely is not a “big” holiday and is referred to many of the people I know as a “banker’s holiday” because the banks are the main things that you see closed on Columbus Day, but so are city and state government, many offices, libraries, and so on. Be that as it may, for the people that do get a holiday in October, they get it on Columbus Day.

Which brings us to the Denver Public Schools 2014-2015 school year calendar. DPS, is a school district that is responsive to its community, and as a result, they, very consciously, I’m sure, did NOT schedule an October holiday on Columbus Day. Depending upon who you are, and your moral, or ethical, or whatever beliefs, that is a good thing.

However, there still IS a school holiday in October. Well… technically… there is a Planning and Assessment day on October 20th, and an assessment day on October 21st. I’m sure that to the teachers, administrators and union, these distinctions are very important, but to the kids, and their parents, the only thing that matters is that the kids are not in school October 20th and 21st. Therefore, as a parent, you will need to make some sort of arrangements for those two days. The problem is that if the school district would have made it October 13th and 14th instead, a lot of parents would already be off, for Columbus Day, and only have to figure out what to adjust for one day. In this case, I’m not sure I agree with the need to make a symbolic point, over the real needs of families who have to rearrange calendars for two days instead of one.

Fortunately, I work from home, so it pretty much works out the same for me. Unfortunately, for my wife, that isn’t the case. So, instead of having a three-day weekend with the whole family the week before, she has a three-day weekend without her kids, and the kids have three-day weekend without her. For us, it’s just the bummer of not being able to do something cool with a long weekend. For others, it’s having to use an extra vacation day, or having to take a day off without pay.

I’m not sure the symbolic need to not be associated with Columbus Day should take precedence over the real life negative impact on families.

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