Lunar New Day Off?

Monday, February 03, 2014

Pupeteers carry two traditional Chinese dragons at the Lunar New Year parade in Chinatown, NY. Pupeteers carry two traditional Chinese dragons at the Lunar New Year parade in Chinatown, NY. (Natalie Fertig/WNYC)

Ron Kim, New York State Assembly Member, explains why the Lunar New Year should be a day off for kids in New York City public schools, and how it could be accomplished. Plus WNYC Data News reporter Coulter Jones discusses some of the reporting Schoolbook has done around Lunar New Year school attendance.

Below: Data from 2012 Showing Low Attendance on Lunar New Year


Ron Kim

Comments [22]

mike from long island

the key to the whole thing is the repeated comment " we need to be recognized institutionally " so you mess with children's education, and something the size of NYC public schools, to get institutional recognition? that is so ridiculous. we are going to spend big money for early education, and then close the schools because some guy( ethnic group) doesnt feel recognized institutionally? this is foolishness.

Feb. 03 2014 11:53 AM
Bonn from East Village

Why not make the week-long (not really necessary) spring break coincide with Lunar New Year to give Asians time to celebrate? As for the Jewish holidays, if you are observing, you are spending quite a bit of time in the synagogue during the day, or performing other rituals that require daytime. In NYC, Eid should also have a day off. Also, the school term should be increased to more than 180 days/year, just like kids in the rest of the world.

Feb. 03 2014 11:49 AM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretenious Hudson Heights

Shouldn't the title "Lunar New Day Off" be "Lunar New YEAR Off"?

Feb. 03 2014 11:25 AM

I don't think teachers need to be Asian (or Muslim or Indian, etc) to take the holiday off. Lots of people are in mixed marriages nowadays so even if the teacher himself isn't that ethnicity, he might want to take the day off to spend with his family who might be celebrating that holiday. Plus, who knows how the teacher absenteeism might have changed since the 50s.

And, yes, New Year takes all day, similar to Thanksgiving. People travel to be together with their extended family and spend the whole day with them. It's not a half-day thing for those people who celebrate it. IMO, New Year is the biggest holiday for Asians. But, I agree that maybe all families can celebrate their holidays on the weekend. My (mixed) family does that for Rosh Hashanah and Passover.

Feb. 03 2014 11:08 AM
Janet from Upper West Side

I believe schools should NOT be closed for ANY ethnic or religious community or holiday. School are critical to the education of all our children and even in NYC 180 days is a woefully inadequate number for good education. Considering the length of the unnecessarily long summer vacation we are really shortchanging the children. I believe we should adhere to school closing for national holidays only and let parents decide if they want their children to go to school or keep them home on their community's religious or other important celebration. I doubt that all adults stay home from work or close their businesses for their community's celebration but if they do, it is their choice as well as their choice to keep their children out of school. I believe that on the day of the holiday the children should receive some teaching during the school day about the significance of the holiday for their fellow student's community. I believe in public education as the strength of our democracy and closing the schools except for national holidays weakens democracy. We can all learn together with the school children about the diversity of our city and our country and the various holidays celebrated. Keep the schools open and give the children the greatest gift we have – a public school education. Let's work to improve that education, not water it down with an increasingly fragmented school year.

Feb. 03 2014 11:04 AM
LISA MARK from Essex County New Jerset

Chinese New Year is written into the curriculum in the South Orange/Maplewood NJ school district from Kindergarten through 3rd grade. We are a mixed race family although my town had very few Asians when my kids were young. I took advantage of this by visiting my son's classrooms every year to do an art project like calligraphic book marks or creating a dragon collage and parading through the halls to the principal's office, up to 3rd grade. It was wonderful. Because our school initiated their learning on the lunar new year, we've been celebrating with family and friends ever since. MY Chinese husband makes 2 Ducks and I make a killer hot and sour soup. It's not necessary to give school days off for every holiday. What about the Vietnamese, who call the holiday "Tet" or other minorities? Education in grade school, along parental involvement helps break down racial and cultural barriers in the classroom. It was what helped bring my son's Chinese heritage come to life for all of us.Other moms brought in birthday cupcakes, I brought dumplings.

Feb. 03 2014 11:03 AM
BK from Hoboken

American kids don't get enough classroom time as it is. It is not the schools job to give institutional acknowledgement of a holiday- it is to teach. 14% of students just isn't enough to shut down the whole system.astly there is a societal aspect to this. Stores, businesses, daycare, etc all close down for Christmas. This has become traditional and society's work schedule revolves around something like Christmas or New Years. What are the 86% of working parents going to do with their kids on a random winter day off? The businesses where they work are not closed. It is a practical matter and a matter f not enough numbers to justify the day off.

Feb. 03 2014 11:00 AM

reply to Landless:

yes- schools open on Xmas. That would go over well.

Feb. 03 2014 10:49 AM

Schools began closing on the Jewish High Holy Days only in the 1950s when I was in elementary school.
However, to be fair, Riosh Hashonah and Yom Kippur are MAJOR religious observances including, for many, devout worship and precludes for many driving cars, traveling and by extension changing parking for alternate side parking.
We observe the western New Year, I think, by tradition and it is mainoy celebratory.

Why do whole days have to be given for lunar new year. It seems from what your guests are saying is that this is part-time, family tradition and is important, but I don't think warrants closing schools.
If parents want to keep children home, fine - let them take an absence for it

Feb. 03 2014 10:45 AM
judith cooper from nyc

NYC public schools started closing on Jewish holidays because teacher absences disrupted the schedule and student absence caused lost reimbursement of funds.

Feb. 03 2014 10:45 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

So put an end to all religious holidays, and on those days when many students and teachers have to take off, there will be special programs to consolidate classes and do other things together such as watch history or science documentaries and movies and the like. It's time to put an end to religious public school holidays and those days the teachers take off will be considered part of their vacation time.

Feb. 03 2014 10:44 AM
landless from Brooklyn.

School should be all year and with only public holidays off. There are many families that need to work year-round. School days off costs families money and limit women's job opportunities. Celebrate culture in private time on the weekends and in time off.

Feb. 03 2014 10:44 AM
Sara from Bushwick

Give 'em all the holidays off and make them go to school year round.

Feb. 03 2014 10:44 AM
mwein from Manhattan

It is my understanding that New York City schools were originally closed
on the Jewish holidays because there were not enough teachers in attendance
to conduct classes. What percentage of NY teachers are of Asian descent
who, were attendance optional on Lunar New Year, would be absent? If
that number is small, then I believe attendance should be optional, rather
than close all schools.

Feb. 03 2014 10:40 AM
Paul Blank from NYC/Northern NJ

One problem of having "school optional" days for different cultures is simply this: what about TEACHERS of different cultures? How can you make it optional for teachers?

Feb. 03 2014 10:38 AM

it's just not fair that there are days off for multiple jewish holidays but none for other "ethnic" holidays. if they want to give jewish holidays off, other ethnic holidays should have the day off as a matter of fairness. or just have no days off for any ethnic holiday.

also, any numbers on what percentage of the public student body is jewish? what justifies school days off on yom kippur and rosh hashanah?

Feb. 03 2014 10:36 AM
The Truth from Becky

Sure, make it a day off, it is a cultural holiday.

Feb. 03 2014 10:33 AM

The NYC School system needs to make a change:
Start giving Lunar New Year, Diwali and Eid off from school and get rid of the February vacation.

We cant possibly have kids out of school more than they are already. Use this new city diversity to actually increase the number of school days by 1 or 2. Do you think Michael Mulgrew would support that?

Weeklong vacations only create a burden on parents who must then pay for daycare or figure out other fixes.

Feb. 03 2014 10:33 AM

Ya think that THE BRONCOS could have done a might better on the start of the Year of the Horse!?!

My feeling - The weather - or the mildness of it - cost Denver a decent performance. If the game were played in today's weather rather than yesterday's mildness, Denver probably would have won. Que sera...

Feb. 03 2014 10:32 AM

Is it possible to see the school attendance map by school for every day of the year?

Feb. 03 2014 10:31 AM

The thing about Lunar New Year is that it's a 2 week holiday, friends and family in a marathon re-acquaint, "Xmas, Thanksgiving and 4th of July all rolled up into one."

I can guess where Party City weighs in on this, but if we honor the world's great holidays then they'll have to bump minimum wage up to about $100 an hour to compensate for all those days off!

Feb. 03 2014 10:30 AM

A bigger better question:
In the 21st century why do schools try to use a one size fits all model for all students.

Feb. 03 2014 10:27 AM

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