A state law requires that students in Brooklyn and Queens have the day off from school on the 1st or 2nd Thursday in June, whichever is 10 days after Memorial Day. (For our readers outside New York, no, school isn't over yet. We stick around until the end of June. High schools are in the last throes of classes before we adjourn for exams, and elementary and middle schools are still in the thick of things.)
Until this year, schools in Brooklyn and Queens were closed for Brooklyn-Queens Day, while the other three boroughs had a regular school day. Those of us teaching in Manhattan experienced nothing unusual on this day beyond our students' complaints about how their younger siblings back in the neighborhood had the day off and they didn't. Now, the new teachers' contract corrects this inequity among the boroughs, or destroys the Brooklyn/Queens cultural heritage, depending on whom you ask. Tomorrow, students in all five boroughs have the day off, and teachers in all five boroughs have to show up for "professional development". (It might actually be useful; my department is using the day to plan the curriculum for next year.)
Kenny Bruno of the Queens Ledger mourns the loss of Brooklyn's and Queens's specialness:
I suppose the single most delightful thing about Brooklyn Queens Day was that it was a day off from school for no apparent reason. Grownups had to work and therefore couldn't schedule any vacation-like activities. Unlike Christmas or Thanksgiving, there were no holiday curricula, no commercials, no traditions to uphold and no family events to attend. It came in June, during the best weather and longest days. The kicker was that no one else had this day off. You could actually go to Manhattan and see to it that your Manhattan friends, if you had any, would look enviously at you from inside their prisons.
So the students of Brooklyn and Queens keep the holiday but lose the bragging rights. Though I'm not sure Brooklyn and Queens can really claim underdog status anymore, now that they're the two largest boroughs by area and population, comprising a solid majority of the New York City population.
(On further investigation, Brooklyn and Queens have had a majority since the 1930 census, the decade that Brooklyn passed Manhattan to become the most populous borough. Queens passed Manhattan in 1960. The Bronx and Staten Island have always been 4th and 5th. But maybe the underdog mentality isn't about population, but about national and international attention, not to mention $$$$, so it still makes sense.)
[UPDATE: Correction: The Bronx was in 3rd place until Queens surged ahead of it in 1950. Ah, suburbanization.]
Meanwhile, other forces have conspired to make tomorrow likely to be a rainy day like today, lessening the possibility of a day of fun in the sun.
Whichever borough you're in, whether you're a student with a day off from school, or a teacher with a day off from teaching, take a moment tomorrow to thank Brooklyn and Queens for being who they are.