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Earlier today students from the University Settlement Adult Literacy Program attended a rally at City Hall to support funding for adult education programs in New York City.
Over 100 immigrants, adult learners, educators and their allies will gather for a press conference at City Hall on March 22nd at 9:30am to call attention to their plight. Thousands of students across the City are currently enrolled in adult literacy classes not scheduled for renewal in the Mayor’s budget. They say they need English classes more than ever, particularly as misinformation and fear about the President’s immigration orders and ICE raids permeates low-literacy immigrant communities.
The press conference is organized by the New York City Coalition for Adult Literacy (NYCCAL), a citywide coalition of community based organizations, CUNY programs, libraries and union training programs. Students, teachers and allies will be joined by City Council supporters, including Immigration Committee Chair Carlos Menchaca.
2.2 million adult New Yorkers currently lacking English proficiency and/or a high school diploma – 1/3 of the entire adult population of the city – yet the Mayor’s Preliminary Budget did not renew $12m in funding included in last year’ budget, an investment advocates called historic at the time.
Literacy programs provide a pathway to economic mobility, social integration, parent-child engagement, improved health outcomes and improved community safety. However, these programs are dramatically underfunded and less than 3% of those in need can access adult education programming. A 2015 survey by NYCCAL revealed at least 15,000 New Yorkers were waitlisted for adult literacy classes where they sometimes waited for over a year.
Here are more pictures:
Last week a number of our students and our program’s principal attended a Nets game in Brooklyn. Enjoy the poem and pictures documenting their experience:
A Principal’s Tale (An Adult Literacy Family Story)
It started out a Friday night
I was last to leave the office, headed to Brooklyn, not to Jersey—a different site.
Walked to Grand Street with thick gloves and an orange “OKC” pompom hat
Got on the D-train to Barclay’s Center with the 6:30 rush hour pack.
Cramped like a sardine with a crackhead to my right
People all ignoring each other and pretending not to hear him, Oh what a night!
An older Chinese lady asked me could she get on the other side of me
I said yes because she wanted me to be a buffer as the crackhead said he wanted to pee.
Finally my station, Atlantic and Pacific, I was ready to enter
Came out the exit and could not see the Barclay Center.
I made a right and came right in front so no problem for me
But I worried about 64 students and staff who’d never been there so woe was all I could see.
Into the line for those without bar or purse
Out with your keys, cell phones and objects no matter friend or nurse.
I answered how can you give me a box no larger than a cereal bowl
When you know a Galaxy Note, wallet and my keys are heavier than gold?
Spread your arms and open your coat as I pass through security
I think good thing I took a bath and there is no humidity.
Turn right and go down until you find your section
Did the teacher teach the students this vocabulary or make an exception?
I was the first to arrive and was nervous as sheep
Worried til I could see all my lambs who are mine to keep.
The first two students came as I chatted with an usher
They said teacher have my coke and chicken, we’ll get another.
I felt relieved as they began to come in at a trickle
The usher said, you’re a teacher you must make a nice nickel.
I enjoyed the fresh faces and wide open eyes at the event
No more Ringling Brothers and animals, but sports is still a big family tent.
Some students came with husbands, children and friends
I was still called Michael, teacher, principal and boss on end.
They brought posters as I had instructed them to do
Some followed the directions, but I could tell that some teacher with NBA had no clue.
It was Chinese Heritage Night and the Brooklyn Nets made a great effort
I could see the student appreciation of it especially since in class and school Chinese language they could not revert.
The cameras and cell phones were snapping and clicking
But the hands and lips were passive, rigid and not flapping.
Mostly due to the lack of experience and the bad Nets performance
The Indiana Pacers were up by 10 points early and Jeremy Lin has no endurance.
I remembered that while not a Brooklyn fan, but OKC Thunder
I am the father, the principal and the family has to show muster.
I told the students when the Pacers came to the free throw line
To boo, hiss and say “miss it” and don’t worry or mind.
At first the Pacers drained the free throws like sipping a beer
But as the game wore on they started to miss so we knew they could hear.
Our students started to perk up as the Nets score drew near
And our chants of “D-E-F-E-N-S-E” grew deafening to every ear.
By the 4th quarter as the Nets took their first lead
My voice had grown hoarse and I was happy I had planted the seed.
The students stood, clapped, jeered and cheered
And the booming “Brooklyn” sound was feared.
And while the final score showed the Nets had gone to Defeat
In Sections 109 and 110 at Barclays they knew the Adult Literacy Program could not be beat.
I asked the children, the adults how did they like the night?
They said it was great, out of sight and dynamite!
I told them we shall go see hockey next time in New Jersey
They all responded with glee, when is next time as I ate my chocolate Hershey!?
I told them next year of course as I heard their deep sigh
Luckily I beat them to the bathroom and took my train or they may not have left me alive!
After nearly one year of learning about how to be prepared for a variety of emergencies one encounters living in NYC, our New York Rising students shared their knowledge about basic preparedness with students in Class W2. Reviewing the commonalities for a variety of “disasters,” both natural and man-made, the New York Rising students taught the W2 students about the importance of having:
1. An emergency plan in place with which the entire family is familiar.
2. Having two meeting places (one near the home and one at some distance in case the neighborhood is inaccessible).
3. Having a Go-Bag ready for each family member.
4. Keeping emergency supplies on hand and a first aid kit.
5. Knowing from where up-to-the-minute information can be obtained during an emergency.