Protesting Cuts to After School Programs
It was quite a scene last night at P.S. 134 on East Broadway. Hours after Mayor Bloomberg released his budget, which includes deep cuts to NYC’s after school programs, hundreds of parents and kids descended on the Lower East Side school to express their anger and concern. So many people showed up at the rally that an overflow crowd was kept outside for much of the evening.
The event featured numerous pleas from elected officials — all of whom urged parents to raise their voices in defense of the after school programs. Addressing the crowd last night were: Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez, Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh and City Council members Margaret Chin and Rosie Mendez.
Noting that the Lower East Side/Chinatown would lose 70% of its after school “seats,” Chin said, “I need to be able to count on you. Call the mayor, call 311… This is a call to action.” Silver added, “make sure every one of you is heard at City Hall.” Velazquez said, “working families are under attack… we work hard to bring (federal) resources to the city… now the city needs to do what is right.”
The Bloomberg budget would cut after school support to more than 25,000 children. In a news conference yesterday, the mayor called the programs “extremely valuable,” but explained that in lean economic times, “we cannot do everything for everybody.” Council Speaker Christine Quinn said later in the afternoon that restoring the after school funding would be her top budget priority in negotiations with Bloomberg.
Last night’s event was spearheaded by University Settlement, Henry Street Settlement, the Chinese American Planning Council and the Educational Alliance. Programs they administer would be eliminated as part of the Bloomberg plan. Chinese Planning Council is holding another rally next week, on May 10th, at P.S. 24, 40 Division Street. It begins at 6 p.m.