Tag Archives: Lunar New Year school holiday

Mayor adds Lunar New Year holiday to NYC public school calendar


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alina Suriel

Mayor Bill de Blasio came to Flushing Tuesday morning to announce that the Lunar New Year will be an official public school holiday beginning in the 2015-16 school year, allowing students of Asian descent to celebrate with family without missing class.

The mayor made the declaration at P.S. 20 in Flushing, which counts 75 percent of the student body as being of Asian descent. The Lunar New Year has already been added to the NYC public school calendar and will take place next year on February 8.

“There was a lot we had to balance to get this right,” said de Blasio, who cited difficulties in ensuring that the state-mandated 180 yearly school days fit into the plan. “It took some work, but it happened.”

Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña emphasized the importance of keeping a steady education schedule for the 1.1 million students of the city and offered her support of new holiday. To make up for the school hours lost, two separate half-days already in the calendar will be lengthened to become full days of classes.

“Taking time off to honor people’s heritage is also important,” said Fariña.

This is the second time de Blasio had made moves toward cultural inclusion in the school calendar. In March he also declared the two holiest days in the Islamic calendar, Eid ul-Fitr and Eid ul-Adha, as official public school holidays.

The mayor was joined by a host of officials and community leaders who had long been advocating for the change.

“For too long, families have been forced to choose between celebrating this important cultural holiday and sending their child to school,” said Councilman Peter Koo, a Shanghai native. “By including Lunar New Year in the school calendar, New York City shows that we are an ever-evolving city that takes pride in the cultural traditions of its diverse populations.”

“This holiday is not about kids just getting a day off from school,” added Assemblyman Ron Kim, who attended P.S. 20 as a student himself 30 years ago. “It’s about the City of New York telling hundreds of thousands of Asian Americans that their culture and heritage is part of the American fabric.”

Kim and Koo, along with Rep. Grace Meng and many other prominent members of the Asian-American community, have all pushed for the mayor to establish the school holiday after de Blasio promised to do so while on the campaign trail in 2013.

After seeing no movement forward in the initiative for the Lunar New Year, Kim took on the responsibility of pushing it forward himself this year by authoring state legislation which would have given all New York children the day off. While that bill is still pending, Kim has said that he would lay aside the legislation in the interest of collaborating with the de Blasio administration.

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Pols: Lunar New Year should be school holiday


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of State Senator Daniel Squadron's Office

Flushing and Chinatown lawmakers are still pushing to get the city to recognize Lunar New Year as an official school holiday.

“It’s time we show the proper respect to the Asian-American community,” said State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky. “Lunar New Year is a time when families, from near and far, come together to celebrate.”

Absence rates in some city schools climb 80 percent on the first day of the Lunar New Year, elected officials said. Though observing students are “excused,” the absence is marked on their record.

“On the day of the Lunar New Year, classrooms are emptied out,” said State Senator Daniel Squadron. “People should not have to choose between spending their most important holiday with their family and going to school.”

Legislation in the State Senate and Assembly would establish Lunar New Year as a school holiday for districts with an Asian-American population of at least 7.5 percent based on the 2000 Census.

Flushing is the only neighborhood in Queens to meet the criteria, along with Chinatown in downtown Manhattan.
The bill had been introduced years ago, but no movement has been made, officials said.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has reportedly rejected the idea in the past. His office did not comment.

“Lunar New Year is a time of coming together and renewal for the nearly one million Asian New Yorkers of different ethnicities who celebrate the holiday,” said Chris Kui, executive director of Asian Americans for Equality. “It is not the same if someone cannot be home to celebrate with the family and the community.”

 

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