December 12, 2011
Around Town – By Neal Tepel
District Council 1707 AFSCME announced that it had filed a lawsuit against New York City to stop Mayor Bloomberg’s so-called “EarlyLearn” proposal. “DC 1707 AFSCME contends that the “EarlyLearn” request for proposal is an unlawful attempt by the City to regulate labor relations in violation of a federal civil rights statute because it deprives the union members of rights secured by federal law.
“EarlyLearn,” if implemented will eliminate day care and Head Start slots for more than 10,000 currently enrolled children across New York City. DC 1707 AFSCME is suing New York City to stop the “EarlyLearn” process to protect children in day care and Head Start Programs and preserve good jobs for professional child care providers.
Another insidious part of the “EarlyLearn” proposal is the way that certain zip codes are removed entirely from the funding scheme. Entire zip codes will be removed from funding eligibility, removing day care and Head Start funding from dozens of neighborhoods. Some of these neighborhoods are economically mixed; some have subsidized housing projects next to high priced condos.
Earlier this year, DC 1707 AFSCME led the fight to restore day care budget cuts for nearly 17,000 children who would have been removed from the programs across New York City. These programs are essential to help women, particularly women of color, continue to work and provide for their family, in addition to helping prepare children for school in a professional education environment. As soon as the funding for day care was restored, the Bloomberg administration put out the “EarlyLearn” request for proposal.
“Bloomberg’s so called ‘EarlyLearn’ program will remove critical pre-kindergarten education for thousands of New York’s children and we have to do whatever we can to stop it,” said Raglan George Jr., Executive Director of DC 1707 AFSCME. “Mayor Bloomberg’s drastic plan is forcing us to take this drastic measure. We need Mayor Bloomberg to make choices we can be proud of, not take the path of least resistance.”