Kids, Politicos Rally to Save After School Funding

Kids, parents and activists crowded into the auditorium at P.S. 134/137.

Kids, parents and activists crowded into the auditorium at P.S. 134/137.

Last night, hundreds of kids, parents and local activists flowed into the auditorium at P.S. 134/137 on East Broadway to “make a stand” against Mayor Bloomberg’s cuts to after school programs.  Next year’s city budget would cut after school and early education funding by $130 million.  Bloomberg slashes funding for the programs every year — and every year the City Council restores the funding.  The rally was attended by several politicians, including City Council member Margaret Chin and State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. Henry Street Settlement, University Settlement, Educational Alliance and the Chinese Planning Council all administer large after school programs on the Lower East Side.  They were there in force at last night’s rally.

Local Organizations Rally To Save After School Funding Thursday

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City Hall rally, last month. Photo: henry Street Settlement/Facebook.

It’s a springtime ritual: the mayor threatens to cut after school funding, local service providers rally to save the programs and, miraculously, the City Council finds the money to keep them going for another year.  This year local not-for-profit organizations, which administer many of the after school programs, are organizing a show of force at P.S. 134/137, 293 East Broadway – Thursday at 6 p.m.  Mayor Bloomberg’s budget slashes $130 million in after school and early education funding.

 

After School Funding Restored

Sol Lain Playground, last month.

It’s a dance parents and service providers have become accustomed to performing each year.  The mayor threatens to cut after school and daycare programs, they organize a series of protests and — when budget negotiations with the City Council are finally concluded — the funding is miraculously restored.

This year was no different.  Yesterday Mayor Bloomberg announced that 30,000 after school seats had been saved, in spite of earlier threats.  Lower East Side programs would have been hit particularly hard.  In a statement, City Council member Margaret Chin praised the decision to restore child care funding but also an agreement that will change the way future program cuts are determined. “We were able to fix a broken system where funding is based on what zip code you live in,” she said, adding that the change will “ensure that programs are not cut in neighborhoods where they are needed the most.”

The zip-code based system penalized economically diverse neighborhoods such as the Lower East Side.  In the future, family income will be the primary factor used to decide where city resources go.

 

Tonight: Parents, Kids Rally Once Again to Save After School Programs

Yesterday afternoon, Sol Lain Playground.

Hundreds of kids from Henry Street Settlement and other organizations rallied yesterday afternoon at the Sol Lain Playground to protest Mayor Bloomberg’s decision to cut after school programs. The Lower East Side would be hit especially hard if the City Council does not persuade the mayor to restore funding. There’s another rally planned this evening at P.S. 124 at 140 Division Street at 6 p.m.  The event is being coordinated by the Chinese American Planning Council.  City Council member Margaret Chin will be in attendance.

 

Protesting Cuts to After School Programs

Outside P.S. 134 last night.

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.

Bloomberg’s Budget: After School Programs Still on Chopping Block

Earlier today, we noted that community groups were awaiting word from Mayor Bloomberg about the fate of almost 200 after school programs. When his executive budget was unveiled this afternoon, the programs, may of which are located on the Lower East Side, were still slated for elimination.  It did not take long for other elected officials (especially those running for mayor) to denounce the decision.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said in a statement:

…I am deeply concerned about cuts to childcare programs. Two major programs, EarlyLearn and Out-of-School Time (OST), have suffered unacceptable cuts and are being implemented in ways that create tremendous disruptions for families, communities, and providers. The EarlyLearn program, as presently funded in this Executive Budget, reduces overall childcare capacity by 8,200 seats and cuts funding to areas of the City with significant high-needs populations. Many working families will no longer have access to low-cost, quality childcare.

Elected officials, the leaders of several neighborhood non-profits and parents will gather tonight at 6 p.m. for a town hall meeting on the program reductions.  It will be held at P.S. 134, 293 East Broadway.

 

Op/Ed: Help Save After School Programs, Attend Town Hall Meeting Tomorrow

Editor’s note: the following article is from City Council Member Margaret Chin. The video posted above was produced by the Campaign for Children NYC.

The urgent email from an elementary school principal on the Lower East Side was accented with questions: how will parents find affordable childcare? Who will want to enroll at our school? Will our children be sent out into the street?

These questions were repeated over and over again, at P.S. 2, P.S. 20, P.S. 124, P.S. 142, P.S. 137, P.S./I.S. 140 and at M345, as one by one, principals were told that their after-school programs had been eliminated. Unfortunately, for some principals, this was not the first time that they had lost an after-school program due to budget cuts. However, it is the first time that programs run by venerable institutions with their roots in the Lower East Side, such as Henry Street Settlement, University Settlement, Educational Alliance, Vision Urbana, and Chinese American Planning Council, had been wiped out of their own neighborhood.

After School Funds Cut; Impact on Ed. Alliance Teen Center Unclear

Rallying to save after school programs

Non-profit organizations across the city have been assessing the impact of Mayor Bloomberg’s austere budget, which was approved by the City Council Tuesday.  The Council managed to restore funding to some crucial services, including fire houses. They also saved dozens of after school programs located in public schools.

But many other after school programs – based in community centers – are going to be hit hard. The Educational Alliance helped lead a citywide campaign against the cutbacks. The Council was able to restore some money to the program, but the budget is still being reduced by almost one-half.

Students Rally to Save After School Programs Next Wednesday

For the past several weeks, many of the city’s social service organizations (including some on the LES) have been campaigning to save New York’s after school programs. Our friends at the Educational Alliance let us know about their next big event, to be held Wednesday, June 9th, at City Hall. Students and education advocates will hold a rally and urge Mayor Bloomberg to restore more than $12 million to 150 after school programs across New York City.

The Save After School Now Coalition has gathered about 10-thousand signatures to present to Deputy Mayor Denniis Wolcott. The organizations waged a successful battle last year to restore after school funds, but the city’s budget situation now is much more dire. The rally will be held at 4pm, on the steps of City Hall. There’s more info on the Educational Alliance’s web site.

It’s Official: After School Funding Restored

For several weeks we've been following the campaign to restore funding for 88 after school programs throughout New York City. Today, we heard from the Educational Alliance, which led the campaign, that the programs will, in fact, be fully funded in the coming year. Mayor Bloomberg planned to cut the programs in the face of a large budget shortfall, but in the past week he agreed to restore 80-percent of the money devoted to the community-based programs. The rest of the money will come from the federal stimulus fund. There's still concern that the programs could once again be in jeopardy in future years, but for now, the organizations affected (and the kids) can celebrate a hard fought victory. See our previous coverage of this story, including a video of a big rally at City Hall, here.

Funding For After School Programs Likely Restored

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We’ve been following the campaign, led by the Educational Alliance, to restore funding for 88 community-based after school programs cut by the Bloomberg administration. Late last night, they got some good news. 80-percent of the funding for the “OST-2″ program was tentatively added back into the city’s budget. The budget negotiations are ongoing, so it’s not a done deal yet – but there’s reason for optimism. There’s also a possibility that the organizations could qualify for federal stimulus money. So, it’s conceivable the programs, which are utilized by more than 10-thousand children and teens citywide, could be funded in full. You can see our video report on a big rally the organizations held at City Hall last week. And here’s our story on the Educational Alliance’s very successful Teen Center.

Students, Community Groups Rally To Save After School Programs

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A large group of students and staff from dozens of community organizations came to City Hall this afternoon to fight for continued funding of after school programs (see our earlier coverage here). Mayor Bloomberg decided to cut off money the city allocates to 88 community-based after school programs. A coalition representing those programs delivered petitions with almost 5-thousand signatures to Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott. Several City Council members, including Alan Gerson, John Liu and Robert Jackson addressed the rally, promising to support their campaign. Look for a full video report tomorrow, featuring highlights from the speeches given by the councilmen and several students.

Thursday News Notes

State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver  now has a proposal of his own to fix New York's ethics oversight commission. He's calling for four separate commissions to oversee state government. As the Times put it, the plan would "preserve the Legislature's tradition of regulating itself." Since Silver is at odds with the governor and State Senate leader Malcolm Smith, nothing is likely to happen soon. The governor says he hopes to take the issue up again in the fall.

According to the New York Post, celebrations after the NYFD's "Medal Day" got a little out of hand yesterday. A woman named Rebeca Izquierdo claims, as the Post paraphrased it, "A party bus blasting hip-hop and reggaeton music pulled up at Allen and
Stanton streets on the Lower East Side as 30 of New York's Bravest
stumbled out. Izquierdo said, "They were all in uniform with open containers and they were soliciting
young girls to get on the bus."  A Fire Department spokesman says they are looking into the situation.

A coalition that includes the United Federation of Teachers, the Alliance for Quality Education, the
NYC Coalition for Educational Justice and the Campaign for Fiscal Equity will hold a rally at City Hall today at noon. They'll urge Mayor Bloomberg to restore money cut from the the Dept. of Education budget. Yesterday, we reported how the New Design High School is coping with the budget cuts. The group will also protest the elimination of funding for community-based after school programs. We profiled the Educational Alliance's Teen Program, which is among the organizations set to lose its city funding.

The Battle to Save Crucial After School Programs

Educational Alliance Teen Center students Mariah, Nadia, Andrea, Maranda and Bianca with tour guide at Cornell College.

Andrea Scott has an infectious smile. She rattles off a list of activities – dance, poetry club, raising money for kids in Africa — faster than I can write them down. Like most teenagers, she’s a little bit torn about whether to go to college close by  or far away from home. But a couple of years ago, withdrawn and struggling emotionally, it didn’t seem all that likely Andrea would being going to college at all.  Her turnaround can be traced to the Educational Alliance’s remarkable after school college prep program. But in spite of its 100-percent success rate, the “Edgies” Teen Center is one of 88 after school programs the city is abandoning in order to balance next year’s budget.

Citywide, the budget cuts mean almost 11 thousand kids will have nowhere to go after school. Now the Educational Alliance is spearheading a campaign to restore the $6 million cut by the Bloomberg administration. They already have 2600 signatures on a petition that will be delivered to the mayor at a City Hall rally June 10th.