When 700 working parents took to the steps of city hall last Wednesday, chanting, cheering and demanding that their children not be cut from city childcare, they weren’t thinking of NYC’s $3.2 billion budgetary shortfall.
But, Mayor Bloomberg is.
The City’s budget for fiscal 2012 is due July 1st, and the Mayor’s plan is reduce the gap, which has increased by $800 million over the last two years. To accomplish this goal, he is forced to make cuts from all budgets and close the deficits of individual agencies. One such deficit is a whopping $95 million for the city’s Administration for Children Services.
“At the end of February, ACS sent letters to the families of 16, 462 children saying they would be terminated from childcare,” says Gregory Brender, policy expert at United Neighborhood Houses, who also says there are currently 100,00 children who receive services.”These are families almost all of whom the parents have jobs, a few are in school and working at the same time, so they both need care in order to educate their children but also in order to have somewhere safe for them at work during the day.”
ACS (and its boss, Mayor Bloomberg) site a few reasons they must shave almost all of the agency’s deficit ($91 million) from early childhood education, one of which has to do with the federal budget. As of Fiscal Year 2012, the stimulus act, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, will expire. That means less teachers will be paid for with federal funding, and with 3 and 4 year olds (the age range of most children being cut) there is a small teacher to student ration. The younger the child the more the personal attention that is needed.
The biggest concern, says Brender and early childhood specialist, is that the cost of socializing these young children and teaching them fundamental information they will need to succeed in public school, will ultimately be passed down the line. In other words, we either invest now, or pay later.
For a politically progressive and government heavy administration, (banning smoking in public areas, labeling calories on menus, and creating controversial bike-paths throughout the five boros) the Mayor’s positions on education seem off kilter.
First, the Mayor hires a corporate CEO to be City Schools Chancellor, only to have her step down 5 months later in response to public outcry. Now, he is failing to invest in the pre-primary school aged children in yet another move that will short the city’s young, for all intents and purposes.
Nydia Velazquez, also a progressive New York politician, would never short education. She has stood up for investing in kids at every turn (most recently on the house floor fighting against head start funding cuts) and in face of federal budget cuts, Velazquez will always side with those spending.