Angela Soto, mother of 4 year-old Tatiana, rallies for her daughter's education. "I'm a working mom, and I feel...my daughter should get an adequate education," said Soto.
"We are in a city that is running a surplus, and for the sixth straight year in a row, they want to cut daycare slots," said Michael Mulgrew, President of the United Teachers Federation at a rally for childcare on Thurs., May 31st.
Mulgrew spoke to over 2,000 people assembled before City Hall, a vocal group that included parents, children, childcare workers, teachers and community activists from throughout the Bronx and northern Manhattan who echoed Mulgrew's calls on Mayor Bloomberg to stop all education budget and "Out of School" program cuts.
"The Mayor wants to cut daycare slots to the neediest families in New York City," said Mulgrew. "This is everything that is going wrong in this country. You do not cut services for children at the very time they need it more than ever."
Parents demanded that their children's daycare programs and their jobs be safeguarded from the drastic budget cuts Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed to the City Council in early May.
"I am here to fight against our Mayor, who is constantly making cuts that make our children suffer," said Juanita Ancrom, Supervisor at the NYC Human Resources Administration (HRA) who works at Ryder Avenue in the Bronx.
And as Ancrom noted, it wouldn't just be over 40,000 students in afterschool, daycare, and early childhood programs affected.
"If the daycare centers are closed, how are we supposed to help the unemployed get jobs?" asked Ancrom, who said she had already seen an influx of parents who've been forced to cut back on their work hours or quit altogether because of the lack of adequate childcare.
"The mayor wants us to find 85,000 jobs for the city, but we can't do that if there isn't any childcare for our clients," added Ancrom.
Parents at the rally voiced concern that their families were being targeted for a loss of programming they could scarcely afford.
"I believe my daughter deserves the best, and she deserves to be like any other child and be able to grow learn and develop in a Head Start program," said Bronx resident Angela Soto, mother to 4 year-old Tatiana Ocacio.
"I'm a working mom and I feel that if I work hard in this city, my daughter should get an adequate education," she added.
Soto spoke to frustration with the leadership of a city she argued risked failing its youngest and most vulnerable residents.
"I lived in New York City my whole life," said Soto. "I grew up with early childhood programs, Head Start, and daycare. I know my daughter deserves that as well. Now is not the time to take those vital programs away."
Elected officials present also denounced the budget cuts, and affirmed their commitment to fighting against them.
Speaking directly to the Mayor, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer argued, "With this proposal, you have been very clear that your priorities is not with the
future of this city. This is taking us back to the day when our children were not the first priority, and we are never going back to that day."
New York City Councilmember Robert Jackson addressed the parents.
"You need to know that you have members of the City Council that are going to fight tooth and nail to make sure that funds are restored," he said.