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Photo courtesy of State Senator Daniel Squadron's Office
Photo courtesy of State Senator Daniel Squadron's Office
At a press conference outside P.S. 20 in Flushing, State Senators Toby Ann Stavisky and Daniel Squadron, Assemblymember Ron Kim and Congresswoman Grace Meng urged the city to make the Asian Lunar New Year a school holiday.

Flushing and Chinatown lawmakers are still pushing to get the city to recognize Lunar New Year as an official school holiday.

“It’s time we show the proper respect to the Asian-American community,” said State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky. “Lunar New Year is a time when families, from near and far, come together to celebrate.”

Absence rates in some city schools climb 80 percent on the first day of the Lunar New Year, elected officials said. Though observing students are “excused,” the absence is marked on their record.

“On the day of the Lunar New Year, classrooms are emptied out,” said State Senator Daniel Squadron. “People should not have to choose between spending their most important holiday with their family and going to school.”

Legislation in the State Senate and Assembly would establish Lunar New Year as a school holiday for districts with an Asian-American population of at least 7.5 percent based on the 2000 Census.

Flushing is the only neighborhood in Queens to meet the criteria, along with Chinatown in downtown Manhattan.
The bill had been introduced years ago, but no movement has been made, officials said.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has reportedly rejected the idea in the past. His office did not comment.

“Lunar New Year is a time of coming together and renewal for the nearly one million Asian New Yorkers of different ethnicities who celebrate the holiday,” said Chris Kui, executive director of Asian Americans for Equality. “It is not the same if someone cannot be home to celebrate with the family and the community.”

 

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