Earlier this week, both mayoral candidates, Democrat Bill de Blasio and Republican Joe Lhota, agreed that public schools should be closed on the Muslim holidays Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. Now powerful state lawmaker Sheldon Silver says Chinese New Year should be added as a school holiday as well!
The Daily News has Assembly Speaker Silver's opinion, “I think the city has to recognize (Chinese New Year). We don’t want to take away from the learning days, but we have to adjust the calendar appropriately to include all of the major populations that we have." Of course, Silver's constituents include Chinatown residents.
The push for Muslim school holidays has been going on since at least 2006 when City Council Member Robert Jackson introduced a resolution to add the holidays to the school calendar. This week, Lhota said, "We have a growing Muslim community in the city of New York and their religion needs to be respected as all other religions are respected... We're not going to lose the school days. We'll have to extend the school days by those two days. But nonetheless those who are Muslim will be allowed to have that day off to celebrate their holidays," while de Blasio said, "We have to respect everyone’s faith in this city."
The News also reports that Queens City Council Member Daniel Dromm wants to add Diwali (celebrated by Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains) to the school holidays list.
Previosuly, Mayor Bloomberg has said, "When you have a city as diverse as we do, with virtually every religion known to man practiced, if we closed school for every single day there wouldn't be any school." But given that the two major mayoral candidates support a change, you never know!
Currently, students do get off for Rosh Hashanah (two days) and Good Friday (Christmas is part of the end-of-year break). Non-religious holidays observed are Columbus Day, Election Day, Veterans Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and Memorial Day, in addition to days where there are regents exams, teachers' workshop days, etc.