Asians lose fight for Lunar New Year school holiday

The bills to make the Lunar New Year day a school holiday in New York State are going nowhere.

The bills calling for all city school districts of cities of more than 1 million residents, with at least 7.5% of them Asian, have been introduced many times for the past six years but have never made it to floor consideration.

State Assemblymember Jimmy Meng, the first Asian member of the New York State Assembly, first introduced the bills in January 2005, but they were discarded with no deliberation.

Since then former Assemblymember Ellen Young (2007) and Assemblymember Grace Meng (2009, 2011) reintroduced them every other year, but again they were stranded in the education committee, the first deliberative body, and never submitted to the plenary session for full consideration.

In 2009 and 2011, State Senator Daniel Squadron also introduced similar bills in the senate but the result was the same.

“The bills apply to the state in general but considering the population condition, they are actually aimed at New York City,” Meng said in a phone interview. “But the City is very negative on that issue and the State Legislature is also very passive on handling bills interfering with city governments, and the bills are drifting.”

“Under the current circumstances, there is a very slim chance again this year that the bills are submitted for floor consideration,” she added. “If the City sets the day as a school holiday, it would have the same effect as the bills are passed.”

Korean and Chinese communities have also tried to make that happen but in vain. In 2003, the community leaders and politicians including then Councilmember John Liu held a rally to establish the Lunar New Year day a school holiday in front of City Hall.

“It is inadequate that schools open on Asian Lunar New Year day in Queens where Asian Americans account for 17%,” Meng pointed out on her visit to Korean American Association of Queens the same day. “I asked Mayor Michael Bloomberg one more time to cooperate on this issue.”

In New Jersey, Tenafly school district observes the Asian holiday with no classes since 2006.

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