Senate’s Passage Of Lunar New Year Holiday Puts Pressure on De Blasio


The Senate’s passage this week of a bill requiring the Asian Lunar New Year to become a city schools holiday both ramped up the pressure on Mayor Bill de Blasio to do likewise and thrilled Nancy Tong, the female district leader of the Democratic Party in the 47th Assembly District.

Female Democratic Party District Leader Nancy Tong

“With so many students that celebrate the holiday, it is a great thing,” said Tong, Brooklyn’s only elected Asian official in a borough whose mainly Chinese-Asian population is swelling more than any other immigrant group.

The senate action comes just a few months after de Blasio added the Muslim holidays of Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr as school holidays, while simultaneously failing to acknowledge the pledge he made, before and after he won the election as mayor, to recognize the Lunar New Year.

Last week, a letter was sent to de Blasio signed by community advocates and elected officials, asking to discuss his initial pledge and the results of the Department of Education’s analysis of the city’s student body.

“According to recent statistics, Asian-American students comprise approximately 15 percent of all public school students,” said Bay Ridge State Senator Martin Golden.

State Sen. Daniel Squadron
State Sen. Daniel Squadron

“The Administration should not wait another year to keep its promises on Lunar New Year,” said Northern Brooklyn State Senator Daniel Squadron. “In addition to the Mayor’s pledge to implement a Lunar New Year school holiday, the administration said it would engage in May — now it’s June. We’ve advocated and passed laws on this. The City should acknowledge this important holiday, and no longer force those who celebrate it to choose between class and their most important cultural holiday.”

Over the next week, several important decisions must be made before the end of the legislative session, causing officials to be frantic. Rent control and mayoral control are just two of the several decisions up for debate.

With de Blasio in need of the Senate to renew mayoral control of the city’s schools and the Senate in need of de Blasio to recognize Lunar New Year, the Department of Education (DOE) released a statement yesterday, acting gingerly toward the subject.

“We value the diversity of our schools and our city and are working through the logistics of adding Lunar New Year while maintaining the legally mandated number of school days,” said DOE Spokeswoman Yuridia Peña.