Adult Literacy Programs

Marla Diamond/WCBS 880

Cuts To Adult Literacy Programs Spark Protests From Immigrants, Teachers

June 06, 2018 - 6:50 pm
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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) – On Wednesday morning hundreds of immigrant families rallied outside City Hall, urging Mayor Bill de Blasio to restore the $12 million in funding that was cut from adult literacy programs in the city’s budget.

"Adult literacy has been a thing that this mayor just doesn't care about," Brooklyn City Councilman Carlos Menchaca said.

A spokeswoman for the mayor explained that the cuts have to be made to set aside funds to repair the subways. 

Immigrant advocates who rallied at City Hall Park say an estimated 2.2 million New Yorkers lack English proficiency.

Menchaca and other City Council members said the mayor needs to find a permanent funding source for adult literacy programs.

"We're teaching our students that there is a tomorrow, there is better, but at the same time we're here wondering whether there will be a tomorrow,” said an English teacher at a city funded program in the Bronx.

Many immigrants rely on adult literacy classes to become proficient in English, ultimately helping them succeed professionally and support their families.

"I learn English, because I need in my job, my family's health and my family,” Felix Mendoza, an immigrant from the Dominican Republic, said.

And at a time when immigrant rights are being threatened, some fear the cuts could have devastating consequences, WCBS 880's Marla Diamond reported.

"There's a lot of terror, you know, we're already dealing with people who don't want to come to classes because they're too afraid to expose themselves,” Sarah Chapman, who directs an education and career services center in Washington Heights, said.

Menchaca said the funding cut is at odds with de Blasio's progressive agenda.

"This is a mayor that is a Democrat and a progressive, so I'm confused and disappointed and angry and we have to stop him,” Menchaca said. "The way that we're gonna win this is to stay strong and united as a city council and make this a priority."