Washington state has four annual civic observances.
Constitution and Citizenship Day
Observed Tuesday, September 17, 2013
The law requires the study of the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of Washington state as a prerequisite for graduation from public and private high schools in Washington state.
Additionally, federal law enacted in December 2004 states: “Each educational institution that receives federal funds for a fiscal year shall hold an educational program on the United States Constitution on September 17 of such year for the students served by the educational institution…” to commemorate the signing of the United States Constitution on September 17, 1787. The federal law is included in Section 111 of Public Law 108-447 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2005. The U.S. Department of Education provides additional information about the law.
Observed the week preceding the federal holiday of November 11, 2013
The law requires that all Washington public schools observe Veterans Day by providing educational activities during the school week preceding the 11th day of November of each year. The responsibility for the preparation and presentation of the activities will be with the principal or head teacher of each school building. The laws dictates that activities be at least 60 minutes total throughout the week and will embrace topics tending to instill a loyalty and devotion to the institutions and laws of this state and nation.
Temperance and Good Citizenship Day
Observed Thursday, January 16, 2014
The law states that on January 16 of each year (or the preceding Friday when January 16 falls on a non-school day) each public school will observe Temperance and Good Citizenship Day.
The original language of the 1923 Washington state law included specific language regarding education of the effects of alcohol and drug use. However this language was removed when the law was revised in 1969. While many interpret “temperance” to mean prohibition, as defined above, instruction on “temperance” may include information about prohibition, but it is not a specific requirement of the law. The 2013 Legislature added the expectation that Temperance and Good Citizenship Day include opportunities in our schools for eligible students to register to vote at school.
Many school districts recognize this day by discussing temperance in connection with good citizenship, specifically addressing self-restraint. This idea of self-restraint is closely tied with many of the activities associated with Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. For example, a district may choose to discuss the accomplishments of peaceful, non-violent protests in the civil rights movement of the 1960s. With the 2013 addition schools will be encouraged to support eligible students to register to vote.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
Observed Monday, January 20, 2014
No legislative mandate
In January 2004, the Washington State House of Representatives passed House Resolution 4676 to recognize Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, honoring the importance of the life and work of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The resolution calls on the people of the state of Washington to study, reflect on, and celebrate Dr. King’s life and ideals in order to fulfill his dream of civil and human rights for all people and urges “all the citizens of our state to make Martin Luther King, Jr. Day a day of service—a day on, not a day off.” There is no state law or specific regulation that requires school districts to observe this day in any particular way.