New York Officials Call for Passage of Bill Recognizing Lunar New Year

By Kristina Skorbach, Epoch Times
January 30, 2014 Updated: January 30, 2014

NEW YORK—State officials are calling for the passage of a bill that allows New York City school districts with high percentages of Asian students to close on the Lunar New Year. 

Meanwhile, City Council members have also in recent weeks been calling for a bill that mandates the closure of all New York City public schools on the holiday, which this year is Friday, Jan. 31.

One of the bill’s sponsors, State Sen. Daniel Squadron, said it’s been a long time coming, as many versions of the bill have been introduced, but never passed.

“The prior administration was strongly opposed to this,” Squadron said.

The Lunar New Year is considered as one of the most important holidays for many Asian communities, including Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Taiwanese, and others.

Squadron said the bill will pass in the Senate on Monday, and he hopes the Governor approves it as early as Tuesday.

There is, however, the challenge to maintain the required number of school days for each district, and schools will have to account for the day off.

The ultimate decision of whether to close a school for the New Year or not will still be up to the local school district.

Squadron was joined in Manhattan’s Chinatown by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, and Assemblyman Ron Kim.

Silver felt that the numbers were clear as to which schools would likely take the day off.

“There’s a significant population at this point that Lunar New Year affects,” Silver said.

At P.S. 130, for example, the absence rate for students was 80 percent on previous Lunar New Year holidays, while at P.S. 124 the rate was 50 percent.

Assemblyman Ron Kim said it’s much more than just a number, or giving kids the day off from school.

“It’s about institutionally telling the world we accept Asian Americans as part of American culture,” Kim said, earning applause from those gathered.