Mayor De Blasio last week declined to declare a school holiday for the Lunar New Year. Yesterday, 18 elected officials penned a letter to the mayor urging him to reconsider.
The letter was signed by the whole New York Congressional delegation, members of the State Legislature and City Council, as well as two borough presidents. It reads, in part:
We commend you again for fulfilling your pledge to add Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha to the 2015-16 school calendar as holidays. This is a significant step to recognize the diversity of our city. It is critical that you also keep your pledge to designate Lunar New Year as a school holiday. When you ran for Mayor, and again when you took office, you made a pledge to recognize Eid al-Fitr, Eid al-Adha and Lunar New Year as school holidays. This year, Lunar New Year fell during an already scheduled winter break, but we cannot depend on the luck of the calendar. In 2016, Lunar New Year falls on Monday, February 8.
They noted that a new state law set the stage for approval of the holiday by New York City, and added:
It may be a failure to comply with this law to keep schools open on Lunar New Year without any substantive engagement with the public or with the Panel for Educational Policy. We once again request to engage with your administration to determine how we can both fulfill the statutorily defined number of school days, and recognize the growing diversity of our city’s children and the holidays they celebrate. We would like to meet with you before the 2015-2016 calendar is finalized to discuss this matter.
According to state Sen. Daniel Squadron, he initiated the drafting of the letter along with Assemblyman Ron Kim. In a press release put out yesterday, Squadron said, “The Mayor’s pledge of a Lunar New Year school holiday is so important to enact for the coming school year… Acting on the Mayor’s pledge is critical so that students no longer have to choose between their most important cultural holiday and missing class, and to acknowledge the city’s ongoing change.”
An online petition has also been initiated in support of designating a Lunar New Year holiday. It was started by Chinatown activist Karlin Chan, a member of Community Board 3.