March 6, 2013
The administrative head of New York City’s day care workers union is blasting Mayor Mike Bloomberg this week as a vindictive hypocrite who is using fear to perpetuate his reinvention of the early childhood education system.
“The president has made statements and is putting out budgets that are going to be enhancing early childhood education, and here the mayor is working in reverse and eliminating early childhood education,” DC1707 Executive Director 1707 Raglan George, Jr. told LaborPress on March 4. “I don’t know where he is. He’s a hypocrite. He talks out of one side of his mouth, and does something else. He’s certainly not supporting working families and children.”
For months, George has been leading a Quixotic one-man campaign outside City Hall in hopes of raising public awareness about the mayor’s so-called “Early Learn” initiative which has threatened successful child care programs throughout the city, and upended the lives of veteran educations since it was launched last fall.
“I think that one of the problems that we have is that folks are afraid to speak out against the mayor and this Early Learn program,” George said. “They’re afraid that he’ll retaliate against them.”
While the city’s Administration for Children’s Services [ACS] continues to trumpet Early Learn’s supposed merits, DC1707 argues that the program has roughly cut 8,000 children from child care, slashed programs for poor children in gentrifying neighborhoods and terminated at least 1,000 preschool employees – many with advanced degrees in early childhood education.
Worst yet, Early Learn has also cast doubt on the availability of earned vacation pay and pensions as educators throughout the system struggle to meet their own financial obligations.
“When these workers leave, they’re going to leave an unfunded vested liability in the pension program that the city has to address – but they don’t know how to address that yet,” said George.
The continuing drama surrounding the sequester battle on Capitol Hill, could also have a disastrous consequences for the city’s Head Start programs.
The New York City Council is set to hold hearings on early childhood education and the Early Learn program on March 18.
“The City Council is going to question ASC about what they’re doing,” George said. “We’ll also be there to testify.”
DC1707 also hopes that council members will once again allocate monies to staunch some of the bleeding – at least until Bloomberg finally leaves office later this year.
With Bloomberg’s exit in mind, George also put an endorsement-hungry field of mayoral hopefuls on notice.
“We’re not going to support any candidate that does not come up with a childcare program that’s going to extend itself out beyond the next elections,” said George. “We want someone who is going to come in and say ahead of time what they’re going to do for early childhood education.”
DC17007 has been representing workers at New York City’s subsidized day care centers for the past 46 years.