An advocate of establishing Veterans Day as a school holiday recently asked the members of the Fairfax County School Board to explain why they feel that observing Veterans Day is not important.
“Of all the days students have off throughout the school year, why was it decided that honoring the veterans of this county and country was not necessary?,” she also asked. “I have tried to teach my children to appreciate the sacrifices the veterans of this country have made and continue to make for everyone. Then Fairfax County totally nullify my efforts by keeping schools open, when they close for so many other days and reasons. Thank you for letting me know the thinking behind this decision.”
Elizabeth Schultz (Springfield District) replied:
I appreciate your advocacy regarding Veterans Day observance in Fairfax County Public Schools and the time in seeking support on this issue. The fact that Veterans Day remains the only Federal holiday FCPS students do not have off is, at best, inconsistent.
Since working to get recognition for our students who are military-bound (either to an academy or enlisting) during their Graduation ceremony, the Veterans Day holiday recognition has been an advocacy of mine. Having come from a military family myself, the need for deference to those who serve to defend and protect us is a core belief.
It is beyond unfortunate that there has been insufficient support by this Board to exchange a calendar day for Veterans Day despite on-going advocacy. One standing argument has been that ‘educational activities’ about Veterans Day can happen if the students are in school. In my opinion, the argument that Veterans Day activities are educational does not preclude such activities taking place leading up to Veterans Day – as all other date-oriented activities throughout the school year. Further, teacher work days, elections, etc. do not outright preclude incorporating Veterans Day as a school holiday; it merely requires planning.
This year, Board members again kicked the proverbial can down the road for another year. Until this calendar change is made, I will endeavour to convince my colleagues every year to vote for substituting another day for Veterans Day.
Schultz also reiterated her strong support of changing state law to allow all school systems to set their own start dates, including starting before Labor Day.
This year the school board is allowing more time to consider the next school year calendar. The Standard School Year Calendar will be presented as new business February 19, 2015, with a vote on March 5. This seems like a good opportunity for re-evaluating the various student holidays. Veterans Day should be a school holiday.