Under Pressure, de Blasio Declares Lunar New Year School Holiday

Image via City Council member Margaret Chin's Twitter feed.

Image via City Council member Margaret Chin's Twitter feed.
Image via City Council member Margaret Chin’s Twitter feed.

Chinatown activists and local elected officials were outraged this past spring when Mayor de Blasio failed to deliver on a pledge to designate a Lunar New Year school holiday. This morning, at a school in Queens, he took action, announcing that the holiday would be added to the calendar this coming February. The New York Times pointed out today that the mayor was backed into a political corner:

…by agreeing to the move now, he avoids a potential political embarrassment. With a pending bill in Albany that would have added the holiday to the calendar, the mayor faced the uncomfortable prospect of the State Legislature’s enacting his own campaign pledge for him, without the imprimatur of City Hall.

According to a press release put out this morning, the “Department of Education has (been working) through long-term school calendar planning to accommodate Lunar New Year in the years ahead, while still ensuring New York City can meet its commitment to educating students and meeting the State-mandated 180 days of instruction.”

De Blasio said, “We pledged to families we would keep working until we made Lunar New Year an official school holiday, and today we are keeping that promise… We are proud to be the largest school district in the nation to recognize the heritage of our Asian-American community by recognizing Lunar New Year. We thank the legislators and community advocates who worked so hard to make this possible.”

This coming year, schools will close on Feb. 8 for Lunar New Year.