Raglan George Jr. Continues Protest Against EarlyLearn
October 23, 2012
By Marc Bussanich
DC 1707 Executive Director Raglan George Jr. continued his one-man march outside the gates of City hall on Monday, October 22 to protest Mayor Bloomberg’s EarlyLearn early childhood education program. The program is causing severe disruption among DC 1707 members, parents and children as daycare centers that long served different communities are shuttering because they didn’t receive EarlyLearn awards or they don’t have the funds to remain open.
Marching for the fourth consecutive week, George Jr. said that he’s been explaining to passersby that inquire how EarlyLearn is negatively affecting union members and families.
“People are very upset when they learn that the Mayor’s policies are dismantling critical services for working people and families,” said George Jr.
“We’re getting the message out, slowly but surely.”
According to DC 1707, EarlyLearn has caused more than 60 day care and Head Start centers to close, therefore contributing to the elimination of almost 1,000 jobs and thousands of children’s slots, forcing working families in all five boroughs to scramble for affordable and safe child care.
Mabel Everett, President of Local 205 Day Care Employees, said she’s been hearing from parents that some centers are curbing their hours to open one hour later and closing one hour earlier than previous, thereby creating more strain for working parents to find affordable day care.
“A lot of parents who live in Queens or Staten Island can’t get to the centers in time to drop off and pick up their children because they have to be at work.”
George Jr. noted that he’s sending letters to the Mayor and the commissioner for Administration for Children’s Services, Ronald Richter, requesting to meet over the fallout since EarlyLearn took effect on October 1. But thus far the Mayor and Richter have not responded to the union’s request for a meeting.
Joining and supporting George Jr. in front of City Hall was Mario Cilento, President of the state’s AFL-CIO. He said that it’s outrageous that the Mayor has not responded to the union’s request for a meeting, but that the state AFL-CIO will coordinate with the New York City Central Labor Council to pressure the Mayor to not only respond but to take action “that positively affects members of DC 1707 as well as the children that are served by childcare programs.”
Cilento also noted that the elimination of affordable day care raises the issue of the direction the city is taking.
“The questions we need to ask and have answers to are, what kind of city do want to live in? What kind of future do we want to have and what kind of services do we think we deserve as citizens of the city of New York?”
He added, “It’s an outrage that the Mayor doesn’t understand that not only are people losing their jobs, but our children are suffering. The future of this city depends on what we do for our children now.”
DC 1707 staffers joined George Jr. as well to pass out flyers to passerby requesting that they call 311 to inform the city of their indignation over the closing of valuable early child care programs.