Urging NYC Not to Cut Funds for ESL Classes

ESL students pretesting at the Bronx County Courthouse. (Photo by Karina Hernandez via Mott Haven Herald)

The city’s most recent budget proposes cuts in funding for adult literacy courses, including instruction in English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), and community organizations and immigrants took to the steps of the Bronx County Courthouse last week to protest the cuts, reports Karina Hernandez in Mott Haven Herald.

The rally was part of a citywide campaign by the New York City Coalition for Adult Literacy to call on the mayor to include $12 million for these programs in his executive budget for 2020, which he will finalize in June. Funding for these programs were not included in the preliminary budget in February.

“I think our message is very clear to the mayor,” said Blanca Ramirez, director of social services at Mercy Center. “You can’t say ‘let’s celebrate immigrants’ and then take away our money or cut our budget. You have to put your money where your mouth is.”

Aida Roman, originally from Puerto Rico, has been a student at KHCC’s ESOL courses since October 2018. She is also the owner of Majestic Balloons, a party decorating business. Thanks to the classes, Roman said, she has been able to expand her customer base to include English-speaking customers.

“We have families that don’t rely on a lot of money and can’t pay $200 or $300 for private courses,” said Roman. “These organizations help us have a way to express ourselves in the United States.”

Mott Haven Herald reports that Mercy Center and other immigrant-serving organizations will be forced to lay off ESL teachers if the funds are not added in the final city budget. New York State’s contribution also amounts to an “underinvestment,” said one community organizer.

Go to Mott Haven Herald to read more, including what a city spokesman had to say about the situation.

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