'MEA break' is back, officially, as teachers union changes conference name


Quick quiz:

What do you call the two-day break from school during the third week of October?

If you answered "MEA break" or "MEA days," you're like most people in Minnesota who refer to those days, along with the following weekend, by the traditional name that's been around for decades – even though that hasn't been its official name for nearly 20 years.

Its official name has been "Education Minnesota break" since 1998, when the old Minnesota Education Association and the Minnesota Federation of Teachers merged and renamed itself Education Minnesota, the Star Tribune notes.

Education Minnesota has tried for years to get the new name to stick, but it announced Wednesday it's changing the name of the annual professional educators' conference to the "Minnesota Educator Academy," or MEA.

"We heard you, Minnesota. MEA is back," said the teachers union, saying it's "reclaiming Minnesotans’ long-held affection for the phrase."

Translation: "We give up."

A welcome break

Regardless of what it's called, the four-day weekend is a highlight for many families with school-age children, who use it as one last mini-vacation before colder weather and the holidays arrive.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press reports that particular week is one of the busiest weeks at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, as families fly off on vacation. Others take shorter trips within driving distance.

Hunting is also a popular activity during the MEA break, the newspaper notes, since the seasons for game birds such as grouse and pheasants are underway at that time.

Families with high school students often take advantage of the long weekend to go on college tours, since they're still in session.

This year's MEA conference, which the union describes as "the largest professional development opportunity for educators in Minnesota," is scheduled for Oct. 15-16 at the RiverCentre in St. Paul.

It features exhibits and more than 100 professional development sessions and speakers covering a wide range of topics.

Education Minnesota has about 70,000 members statewide.

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