Nearly 1,000 students, teachers, and advocates [including Make The Road New York] also rallied outside of City Hall yesterday to urge Mayor Bloomberg and the City Council to restore funding for adult literacy, GED, and English classes. The students and supporters from across the City, joined by numerous City Council members, were brought together by the New York City Coalition of Adult Literacy (NYCCAL), an umbrella advocacy group dedicated to preserving and promoting access to literacy services in the City.
If passed in its current form, say advocates, the Mayor’s budget would eliminate $6.5 million in funding for literacy and immigrant services, ending classes for 7,000 for New Yorkers seeking to improve their English skills and their chances of landing or keeping a job in a tight economy. The proposed cuts come on top of 7,000 seats already lost over the past two years since the Administration eliminated baseline funding for DYCD’s program. The cumulative cuts threaten the loss of 80% of community-based adult literacy program capacity since 2010.
“I have championed the cause of adult literacy for years now chiefly because I have personally witnessed the empowerment that these programs deliver,” said Council Member Sara M. González.
González was joined by City Council Immigration Committee Chair Daniel Dromm and Council Member Deborah Rose.
At stake in the budget negotiations are three critical literacy programs: the Department of Youth & Community Development’s (DYCD) Adult Literacy Program, and two popular council initiatives- the Adult Literacy Services Initiative and the Immigrant Opportunities Initiative (IOI). Unless the Mayor or City Council acts to restore the funding, all will receive zero city funding in the coming fiscal year. NYCCAL is calling for the restoration of $5.2 million for DYCD’s program, $1.5 million for the Adult Literacy Services Initiative, and $4.0 million for IO.
“In a city with 1.2 million working adults lacking a high school diploma, and over 3 million foreign born residents, many working day and night to keep NYC running, it is shameful that Mayor Bloomberg has chosen to not include these community based literacy services in the budget,” said Kevin Douglas of United Neighborhood Houses (UNH).
“At a time when New York City most needs a skilled workforce and engaged citizenry, it is bad policy to target community-based adult literacy programs with such deep and disproportionate cuts,” said Sierra Stoneman-Bell of the Neighborhood Family Services Coalition (NFSC).
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