U.S. Rep. Grace Meng, D-Flushing, has introduced a bill that would create a school holiday for the Lunar New Year, which the borough’s Asian-American community will celebrate this year on Jan. 31.
Under Meng’s congressional resolution, schools serving a substantial Asian-American population would be encouraged to close schools on the holiday in recognition of its cultural significance.
“Lunar New Year is celebrated by well over 8.7 million Asian-Americans in the United States,” Meng said. “It’s the most important holiday of the year for the Asian-American community and Asian-American students should not be forced to choose between celebrating with family or missing school. Students of many other cultures and ethnicities rightly have off for the most important holidays they observe and kids who celebrate Lunar New Year should be afforded the same.”
The congresswoman said that students who miss school for Lunar New Year are not only marked absent, but can suffer from academic consequences since they may miss scheduled exams and pop quizzes while they are out.
Also, communities with large Asian-American populations often experience a large number of teacher absences on the holiday, she said.
Currently, city students who miss school due to the holiday receive an “excused” absence, however their missing the day is still marked on their record.
A total 15.4 percent of the city’s public school population is Asian-American.
Lunar New Year, which is celebrated around the world, includes festivals, cultural performances and parades.