State Senator Daniel Squadron and Assemblywoman Grace Meng celebrated the Year of the Dragon by sending Mayor Michael Bloomberg a letter asking him to make the next Lunar New Year a holiday in city public schools.
“According to Asian customs, all the members of a family gather together on the eve of the New Year to prepare a giant feast and perform certain rites. Because of these important customs, a school holiday would allow Asian American children to celebrate the holiday with their families,” they wrote.
Currently, public school students receive an “excused” absence if they give written notification they’re missing class for Lunar New Year, but those absences still count on their record.
Assemblywoman Meng represents the 22nd Assembly District in Flushing, Queens. Senator Squadron represents the 25th Senate District, which includes the Lower East Side and parts of Brooklyn. Both politicians have large numbers of Asian-American constituents.
“As representatives of two of the City’s largest Asian American communities, we believe that making Lunar New Year a school holiday would help recognize the important role that Asian Americans have played in our city and state. About 14 percent of school children in the NYC public school system are Asian American,” they wrote in their letter. “Our City prides itself on its multiculturalism — and designating the Lunar New Year as a school holiday would be an important gesture to Asian Americans that their customs and contributions to our City are appreciated. On a larger scale, it is a demonstration of the values that we claim, share, and celebrate as Americans, that we honor ethnic and religious holidays and celebrations of all cultural backgrounds”
In addition to their letter to Mayor Bloomberg, Senator Squadron and Assemblywoman Meng are sponsoring legislation that would make the Lunar New Year a school holiday in all city school districts around the state in cities with one million inhabitants or more and an Asian population of seven and one-half percent or more.