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Know Your Rights
Source: New York Nonprofit Press
Subject: Adult Literacy
Type: Media Coverage

Advocates Rally Against Cuts to Adult Literacy

Hundreds of adult education students and representatives of community
organizations gathered at Travers Park in Jackson Heights, Queens, this
morning where they urged the state and the city to restore recent cuts
to adult literacy and job training programs for more than one million
New Yorkers who need basic skills, a GED and help learning English.

The proposed State executive budget cuts more than $2 million for
Adult/Literacy Education (ALE) services, a source of funding that
enables hundreds of organizations to support workforce development
through Basic Education, GED and ESL classes in New York City. The
crisis facing immigrant communities is further exacerbated by the
State’s proposal to deeply cut the only two immigrant-specific programs
offered by the state—the NYS Refugee Assistance Program and the NYS
Citizenship Initiative— by over 20% and 50% respectively.

“Immigrant workers who are still learning English are woven into the
fabric of the economy and are a large proportion of the labor force,
yet classes to help immigrant and other low-skilled workers are about
to be slashed,” said Chung-Wha Hong, executive director of the New York
Immigration Coalition.

“The $2 million in proposed cuts to ALE would put hundreds of Make the
Road New York’s
students out on the street without a class, said Julie
Quinton, Director of Adult Literacy at Make the Road New York
, which
currently offers seven English classes to Latin American immigrants
that are supported through New York State’s Adult Literacy Education
(ALE) funds.

"The proposed budget cuts in New York State’s Adult Literacy Education
(ALE) funding could mean the elimination of more than a half dozen
classes next year, leaving hundreds of Queens parents, workers and
community members without access to crucial training programs at a time
of economic crisis when they will need them most,” said John Hunt,
Associate Director of the Center for Immigrant Education and Training
(CIET) in LaGuardia Community College’s Adult and Continuing Education

"Our member agencies see immigrant workers in industries such as
construction and day labor facing job loss and reduced work hours in
this economic downturn," said Anthony Ng, Deputy Director of Policy and
Advocacy, United Neighborhood Houses. “ESOL and adult education classes
are critical to helping one keep their job and remain competitive in
the job market. Funding for these classes must be restored and expanded
to ensure a strong workforce that will help New York’s economy recover.”

Advocates argue that over 1.5 million NYC residents 16 years of age or
older are out of school and do not have a high school diploma; more
than 20 percent of New York State’s population is foreign-born (twice
the national average); and more than one million New Yorkers are not
yet proficient in English. But despite the vast need for adult
education and training opportunities for immigrants and other
adults—especially during these difficult times–fewer than 60,000
spaces in free or low-cost government-funded adult literacy/ESL classes
are available – leaving over 97 percent of the need for adult education
classes unmet.