"keep the promise" gathered at City Hall last week to urge Mayor
Michael Bloomberg to restore millions of dollars for immigrant education now
scheduled to be cut from the mayor’s budget.
"How can Mayor Bloomberg
talk about embracing immigrant communities in his State of the City address,
then basically renege on his agreement to provide immigrant students the help
they need?" asked Chung Wha Hong, executive director of the New York
The mayor’s preliminary
budget cuts out an existing allocation of $15 million that would have gone
toward 113 English language learner teaching jobs in the public school system
this year and 226 positions next year.
"We have chosen this
Valentine’s Day to ask why this so badly needed money for the future of New York City is to be
eliminated," said Javier Valdes of the New York Immigrants Coalition.
Valdes said that less than a
month after he embraced immigrants in his State of the City address, the mayor
is turning his back on these immigrants.
"It’s Valentine’s Day.
Where is the love?" Valdes asked.
Councilmen John Liu
(D-Flushing) and Hiram Monserrate (D-Jackson
Heights also spoke out
against the education cuts.
"We have here in our
immigrant community the future of New
York City," Liu said.
"We are going to be
asking you again and again to come back here to keep the pressure on," Liu
told the demonstrators, who represented many ethnic and racial groups.
The mayor’s proposed
reductions impose a mid-year 1.75 percent ($100 million) cut to all schools,
forcing principals to eliminate intervention programs and leave teaching
Among the hardest-hit schools
are Newtown High School in Elmhurst with a cut of more than $300,000, Flushing
High School with $249,471, John Bowne High in Flushing with $292,529, Franklin
K. Lane with $218,759 and William Cullen Bryant High in Long Island City with
The demonstrators represented
a variety of immigrant advocacy groups** all under the New York Immigration Coalition, an
umbrella organization representing more than 200 such agencies.
Among the groups taking part
in the demonstration were the Chinese Progress Association, the Russian-American
Parents Association, The Coalition for Asian American Children and Families,
the International Network for Public Schools, El Centro de la Hospitalidad and
Make the Road New York.
** Including Make the
Road New York