Elected Officials to de Blasio: Keep Your Promise on a Lunar New Year Holiday

Lunar New Year Parade 2015 in Manhattan's Chinatown. Photo by Tim Schreier.

Lunar New Year Parade 2015 in Manhattan’s Chinatown. Photo by Tim Schreier.

Local elected officials are keeping the pressure on Mayor de Blasio to declare a Lunar New Year school holiday in the upcoming school year.

This past spring, the mayor passed on the opportunity to place the holiday on the calendar, even though he’d spoken in favor of the idea while running for office. The State Legislature cleared the way for the move last December.

According to a press release put out by the elected officials last week, the de Blasio administration promised to complete a Department of Education analysis by last month to determine the impact of a Lunar New Year holiday. There’s been no sign of that report, so now they’re asking for a meeting to go over the results. Here’s a portion of letter to the mayor signed by State Sen. Daniel Squadron and City Council member Margaret Chin, along with U.S. Congresswomen Grace Meng, Carolyn Maloney and Nydia Velazquez, among other elected officials:

 

Please consider that Lunar New Year falls on a school day next year on Monday, February 8, 2016, and it is unlikely to do so again until 2018. We reiterate to you the importance of adding Lunar New Year as a school holiday. Asian-American students comprise approximately 15 percent of all public school students. As your policy stands today, children must miss class when celebrating their most important cultural celebration. That’s why absentee rates in some schools have been reported to be as high as 80 percent on Lunar New Year. Thank you for your renewed attention to this matter. We look forward to sitting down with your Administration to review the DOE analysis, and to make progress on adding Lunar New Year as a school holiday for the 2015-16 calendar.

“In addition to the Mayor’s pledge to implement a Lunar New Year school holiday,” Squadron added in the press release, “the administration said it would engage in May — now it’s June. We’ve advocated and passed laws on this. The City should acknowledge this important holiday, and no longer force those who celebrate it to choose between class and their most important cultural holiday.”

City Council member Margaret Chin said, “The fact is that many within our city’s Asian-American community feel slighted by Mayor de Blasio’s apparent decision not to include Lunar New Year as a holiday on the 2015-2016 public school calendar… The solution is simple — Mayor de Blasio must follow through on his pledge to create a Lunar New Year public school holiday, and he must do it now.”

The heads of many community organizations also signed on to the letter, including the Better Chinatown Society (which runs the Lunar New Year parade), Asian Americans for Equality, the Chinese American Planning Council, the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association and the United Fujianese American Association.