Pols renew push for Lunar school holiday

Downtown Express photo by Dusica Sue Malesevic State Sen. Daniel Squadron at a City Hall rally March 12 calling for a school holiday on Lunar New Year. To the right are Assemblymembers Ron Kim and Sheldon Silver.

Downtown Express photo by Dusica Sue Malesevic
State Sen. Daniel Squadron at a City Hall rally March 12 calling for a school holiday on Lunar New Year. To the right are Assemblymembers Ron Kim and Sheldon Silver.

BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC  |  Elected officials and community groups rallied in front of City Hall two weeks ago to push Mayor Bill de Blasio to fulfill his pledge that the Lunar New Year would be a school holiday.

The March 13 rally came on the heels of de Blasio’s recent  announcement that two Muslim holidays — Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr — will be added to the school calendar. Schools will be closed on Sept. 24 in observance.

State Sen. Daniel Squadron said the mayor had more than enough time to add the Lunar New Year to the 2015-2016 school calendar.

While applauding de Blasio on making the Muslim holidays part of the school calendar — a position all of the speakers took — Squadron said the mayor should keep his pledge on the Lunar New Year.

Next year, said Squadron, it will be on Mon., Feb. 8 and families should not have to choose between celebrating the holiday and missing a day of school.

“We’re really pushing this,” said Councilmember Margaret Chin, whose district includes Chinatown.

There is “enough time to plan for next year’s schedule” and it “must be declared a school holiday,” Chin said.

Asian Americans are around 15 percent of the student population in New York City. Students who miss school to celebrate the holiday receive an “excused” absence that is marked on their record.

No one community is more important than another, said Assemblymember Sheldon Silver, who reiterated the call for the mayor to keep his promise.

Silver, who was forced to give up the Assembly speaker’s post earlier this year in the face of federal corruption charges, has been more visible in the district of late. An observant Jew, he likened the calendar change to school closings on the Jewish Holy Days.

Councilmember Peter Koo of Queens said “Mayor de Blasio, let’s do it now.”

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