Protestors Urge NYC Mayor To Fully Fund Adult Literacy Programs!

hey Brad squad I'm here at the adult literacy rally where hundreds of people have gathered to protest 12 million dollars worth of budget cuts to the adult literacy program here in this city there are dozens of organizations who have rallied together for City Council to overturn the mayor's decision to cut major major funding from these literacy programs we're here to talk to organizers rally goers and students to find out exactly how they feel about these cuts check it out everybody I am here with Mary Ali Sabbah Maria what is this rally about we come out here every year to let the mayor know that he needs to restore funding for adult learners and this supports a dinamic the organization that I am with six to eight hundred students a year who come to us for English classes for adult basic education and high school covalency what kind of students take advantage of these adult literacy fund we see all kinds of students they run the spectrum from a recent immigrant who wants to learn English soon an adult learner who didn't get the opportunity to get the high school equivalency to a young adult who didn't make it through the education system in New York City and is now in our program so we run the gamut and these services artificial to New York City so how have these budget cuts impacted your ability to help those students well every year the issue is that we have to come out because the mayor will cut it off the budget and the City Council has Sarah's story so we thank the City Council for believing in adult learners and we asked the mayor to stop the stands there's no need for us to come out here five a thousand six all that put the money and we need it how many years have you guys been coming out here to do this Oh at least a but I can remember so this goes back to the other administration so it goes it's it's a budget mess we do every year with every administration and has to stop hey Brad squad I'm here with Jeff thank you so much for joining us Jeff what is your role at today's rally I work for the Chinese American Planning Council we're a member of the night group which the New York City Coalition for adult literacy today I'm here to just try and get everybody excited for the rally to support an adult education just really at lending my support as best as I can is this your first rally yeah unfortunately funding for thogh they really seem to be like a political football to 1/2 million adults lack are there are high school education or basic literacy skills they know this is a need this is a need for our communities to find better work to take care of their families to find health care let's not play games anymore all right let's support adult education and that's why we're here [Applause] hey Brad squad I am here with lease the wonderful program manager at the Mercy Center tell us what the Mercy Center is and more importantly who all these wonderful people are so the Mercy Center is a community-based organization in the South Bronx that services women and their families particularly immigrant families and we've been around for quite some time one of our largest programs is ESL and we have hundreds and hundreds of students who are here to learn English to make their lives better to make the lives of their children better and to make the community better and that's what we really want to see done here that's why we're here fighting for the mayor to put in 12 million dollars back into the budget because we absolutely needed it is vital it keeps our classes running it keeps the lights turns on it keeps the classes free and it keeps the community engaged what's your name and when did you start classes at Mercy my name is Helen I understand in the last September I am before not speaking not in English but now I am speaking I know grammar I am I am what's your name my name is Matt Ashmore you I am a student and mrs. Fenton and how long have you been a student at the mercy I friends Humber and where was your English when you started did you know any English when you start a little bit but now I can't understand everybody I can when I go do my thing I can how many students do you guys service at the Mercy center Oh has to be over a thousand thousand five hundred in certain cases we have a huge community and we don't just provide English classes we try to holistically approach education and embedder bettering the lives of our students so that means family services immigration services everything down to nutrition [Applause] the adult literacy rally has just wrapped up I saw you prominently onstage introducing all the speakers tell me what your role in it was my name is Lena Khan I am a policy analyst at United neighbourhood houses we are one of the leading members of the New York Coalition for adult literacy this is a group of organizations across the state that either provide adult literacy services or advocate for them in Albany and City Hall and sometimes in DC this group of individuals are some of the most powerful people I've ever worked with and the reason they have to fight so hard for their classes is because for some reason education classes for immigrants are always undercut in both the city and state budgets every year the mayor cuts 12 million dollars from the adult literacy program and then every year you guys are forced to organize this rally and then petition City Council to overturn that line-item so that's basically it the council has always been our partner in this they want to see New York City invest and all of the adult literacy programs that it offers however they don't exactly have the power to do that it really has to be a decision from the mayor's I ministration in order to serve you know the over 15,000 individuals that are on waitlist for adult literacy classes in New York City alone we need to have a permanent budget line so that every year they know that their classrooms will be open and then we can start looking to the fill in the gap kneel on twelve million dollars just to get this right there are 15,000 people in New York City who are not in ESL classes or adult literacy classes of any kind they're just on the wait list for them that's exactly right we have 15,000 according to a 2016 survey that the New York Coalition for adult literacy conducted in New York City providers we you know they estimated that the waitlist total was 15,000 yet that didn't even include everyone that's written for class it's important to note that there are 2.2 million adults in New York City that lack either English proficiency a high school diploma or both so when you consider how many we're serving it actually evens out to only 3% of the need is being matched currently Wow so how many students are currently enrolled in ESL or adult literacy classes at least above 50,000 in New York City the ones we're talking about at this rally and all of our others our programs that are based in community centers in local libraries in in small College areas so that when primarily immigrant students need to talk to someone about signing up for classes they feel like they can go to a trusted community member and receive the most best service that is culturally fluent culturally relevant because it's being led by someone in their community and the grand scheme of things new New York City has what at 92 billion dollar budget and the fact that we can't even secure 12 million dollar permanent budget line is extremely frustrating given how much of the need is currently unmet right you said this was your fourth rally right so so in 2019 alone this is our fifth rally we've we started in Queens and we went all the way through our last one was in Brooklyn and now this one in Manhattan we gather providers and students from all across the city we saw at least a thousand people here the same thing happened last year the fact that year after year we see high levels of turnout and we had like lines of people that wanted to speak goes to show that this you know this issue of education is a fundamental one that's not going to go away until the marriage all right Brad squad thank you so much for joining us at the adult literacy rally we talked to rally goers students and organizers all hoping that mayor de Blasio will make the 12 million dollars needed for adult literacy programs a baseline budget item thanks so much for watching we hope you learned a whole lot I sure did until next time see ya you you

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