Inauguration Day: A Time to Teach, or a Day Off for Students?
Is the inauguration of the nation’s first African American president a day to close schools, or is it a teachable moment in classrooms?
Some school systems in the Washington area will be closed on Inauguration Day for various reasons. Others will be open. And some teachers are lobbying school officials to create a holiday to recognize the added historical significance of a Barack Obama presidency.
Bill Fisher, president of the teachers union in Charles County, said he has received several calls from teachers requesting Inauguration Day as a holiday. Fisher said some teachers who are parents have children participating in the festivities and want to see them.
Some teachers in Montgomery County would like the day off, as well. Others view it as “a learning moment” and would like to be in school.
“There’s been debate going on on our online forum,” said Tom Israel, executive director of the Montgomery County Education Association. “Some people are in favor of it, and some people aren’t.”
Brian Edwards, chief of staff to Montgomery Superintendent Jerry D. Weast, said schools will remain open as planned.
“We have no plans to close school on Inauguration Day. Indeed, it will be a historic moment and I am certain that many teachers will use it as part of their lessons that day,” he said in an e-mail.
School systems in Montgomery, Prince George’s, Charles, Loudoun, Calvert and St. Mary’s counties and others plan to be open on Inauguration Day, based on calendars that were set long before the election was decided. Others, including the District and Fairfax, planned to be closed. District schools would face an insurmountable logistical hurdle to get students in and out of some classes that day, while Fairfax recognizes it as a holiday.
Schools in Frederick and Arlington will be closed to students but open to teachers, who have work days in both counties.The Arlington school board weighed the inauguration in its decision. Frederick officials did not.
“The Board was aware last spring that Jan. 20 would be Inauguration Day, so it was considered in their decision when the calendar was set, long before anyone knew who would be running for office this fall,” said Linda Erdos, Arlington schools spokeswoman.
Elementary schoolers in Prince William County have a half day of school -- not because of the inauguration, but for parent-teacher conferences.
-- Daniel de Vise and Megan Greenwell
Washington Post Editors
November 12, 2008; 1:10 PM ET
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