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Tough decisions are nothing new to The Brainerd School Board. Even people who have little or no interest in public affairs often pay attention to the doings of the school board since when it affects their children.

Among the tough decisions it may struggle with is whether it should change its policy and declare a school holiday on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The federal holiday is celebrated on the third Monday of January rather than on his Jan. 15 birthday. Brainerd School District residents who are admirers of King and the civil rights movement could easily disagree on what the right course of action is on this topic. 

Some argue the day is a federal holiday and a day off would lend special significance to the civil rights leader. They note the racial make-up of the school district is no longer the lily white one that it was for decades. The district is becoming more diverse, a fact the 2010 census is almost certain to confirm.

Others maintain King can be better honored in school programs with guest speakers and classes that detail the history of the civil rights movement. They fear if school is not in session the King weekend will simply be an opportunity to take a winter vacation for families with little time spent honoring the slain leader.

It’s a tough call. It would be hard to fault the good intentions of any school board that decides to make the King holiday a day off although our suspicion is that more good could be done if school was in session. If the school district decides to keep school in session we would ask administrators and teachers to redouble their efforts to make it a special educational day to point out the transformation this nation underwent in its struggle to work toward racial equality.