Another potential 2013 candidate for mayor has blasted Mayor Bloomberg for his 2013 budget. The budget would cut the number of contracts awarded for after school and early child care programs by about half. In the week since the mayor unveiled his budget, educators and parents have taken to the streets to protest. And today, Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio added his voice to the growing outcry. John Light reports.
JOHN LIGHT, REPORTER
At a press conference outside city hall, De Blasio said that Bloomberg’s proposed cuts are part of a trend that he finds unsettling. When the recession began, the public advocate said, there were more than 130,000 kids in after school programs and childcare programs.
BILL DE BLASIO
If this budget passes as it is, that combined figure will go to 53,000. 80,000 fewer kids.
De Blasio’s office has put together a report, called “Cut Now, Pay Later.” It argues that while the cuts may save money now, they’ll cost the city in the long run.
BILL DE BLASIO
We have a Harvard study that shows for every one dollar invested in early childhood education generates two dollars in economic activity.
Though De Blasio’s report looked to the future, some people in the crowd were focused on the next few weeks. Wanda Torres works at a daycare center in the South Bronx.
We got a letter on Monday saying our contract wasn’t going to be renewed. So as of June 30th we’re no longer going to receive funds, and we’re going to be shut down.
Torres says that many parents who send their children to her daycare center are not sure where else they might be able to send their kids while they’re at work. She says … some parents have considered leaving their jobs or working part time, but for many, that’s not an option.
If they leave their job, then who’s going to support their kids? So they were asking us if we have anything, but we’re just in the same place that they are. We don’t have any definite information as to what’s going to happen.
Educators across New York have rallied students and parents to protest the proposed cut since Bloomberg’s budget presentation last week. Just yesterday, Bloomberg announced a public information campaign — the largest ever of its kind — to address chronic absenteeism in public schools. Manhattan parent Elzora Cleveland finds Bloomberg’s focus on absenteeism ironic in light of his proposed cuts.
It’s very interesting that he wants to target absenteeism at a time like now but yet he opts to close after school programs and early childhood education programs. I mean, that is going to have a ripple effect of more absenteeism.
When he presented the budget, Bloomberg admitted that he may not get all the cuts he’s asked for.
MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG
Well, number one, we work with the city council between now and June 30th. So we’ll see how all of that works out.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn — who’s a likely candidte to succeed Bloomberg — will be overseeing any changes to the proposed budget. And Quinn vowed last week to reinstate funding to after school programs. Hearings on the cuts will begin Monday, May 14th.
John Light, Columbia Radio News.