April 9, 2013
By Marc Bussanich
New York, NY—Public advocate and mayoral hopeful Bill de Blasio joined Raglan George Jr. on his one-man march protest against the city’s Early Learn educational program. George Jr., has been marching weekly since the program took effect on October 1 and de Blasio said that the program has to be reversed. (Watch Video)
George Jr., executive director of AFSCME District Council 1707, the union that represents workers in city-subsidized day care, home care and Head Start centers, has vociferously opposed Early Learn because he notes it has upended the city’s long history of providing comprehensive early child care for thousands of the city’s children.
“Early Learn has devastated the nation’s most comprehensive child care system with thousands of fewer children receiving services, with parents scrambling to find safe, quality and affordable child care and contributing to the terminations of long-time, educationally-certified employees,” said George Jr.”
One reason why many children are losing services is based on a formula used by the Administration for Children’s Services to identify the neediest children by their ZIP code. While on the surface the practice seems praiseworthy, the problem is that within those zip codes there are pockets of extreme income disparities.
When ACS uses zip codes to determine which centers should receive subsidies, the city’s poorest families are losing access they previously had because the incomes of wealthier residents within the zip code are masking the neighborhood’s real needs.
Mr. de Blasio, who released a report last month calling for an increase in taxes from 3.86% to 4.3% on the incomes of New Yorkers who earn more than $500,000 annually to fund an expansion of universal pre-K and after school programs, said that while Early Learn has a nice sounding name, it obscures the program’s real intent.
“Who wouldn’t like it if you hear it at first. The problem is that it actually undercut the availability of child care seats in this city,” said de Blasio.
When asked what should the next mayor of the city of New York do with Early Learn, de Blasio told LaborPress it should be reversed.
“Early Learn has to be reversed on several levels. Early Learn is a cleverly veiled series of cost-cutting measures. We need a commitment to expanding quality childcare and to universal pre-K. We need a commitment to putting rules in place that actually allow centers to operate and to hire the staff they need. I want to put this [program] in reverse.”