By Mary Frost
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
NEW YORK — State Senator Daniel L. Squadron (D 25th Senate District) and Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing) want the city to declare the Chinese (or Lunar) New Year an official school holiday. The Lunar New Year started Monday.
Lunar New Year — celebrated by many countries including Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam and, of course, China — is the most important holiday in the Asian community. Roughly 15 percent of New York City students are of Asian heritage. The way things stand, these students have to choose between going to class or celebrating the holiday with their families.
In a letter sent to Mayor Bloomberg, Squadron and Meng wrote, “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.”
Senator Squadron’s district includes Manhattan’s Chinatown and Assemblywoman Meng represents Flushing, Queens.
Currently, a student who takes the day off to celebrate the holiday receives an ‘excused’ absence — but it remains an absence on the student’s record and results in the student missing class, Senator Squadron said.
If the city won’t designate Lunar New Year as an official holiday, then Squadron and Meng ask to make the day a “professional development day.” Brooklyn-Queens Day, once an official holiday celebrated in June in Brooklyn and later in Queens, devolved into a professional development day several years ago. On a professional development day teachers and administrators must report for work but kids have the day off.