New York—The Professional Staff Congress, the professors’ union at CUNY, praised the State Assembly Majority for supporting New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s universal pre-kindergarten initiative and his plan to pay for it. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver announced Monday that the Assembly’s budget resolution would allow New York City to raise taxes on the wealthy to fund universal pre-K and after-school programs.
Barbara Bowen, president of the union representing 25,000 faculty and staff at CUNY, said:
“As a union of educators, we know that universal pre-K and expanded after-school programs will make a real difference in the life-chances of the students we teach at CUNY. Nothing in education matters more than a strong foundation, and that’s what de Blasio’s plan would provide—for all, not just the privileged. The Assembly Majority understands the justice of the mayor’s plan and recognizes the importance of predictable, verifiable funding for stable pre-K and after-school programing. The Senate and the governor should join the Assembly in acknowledging the City’s right of home rule, and let the children of New York have the start on life they deserve.”
CUNY students are typically low-income, people of color, and immigrants—exactly the New Yorkers who would benefit most from universal full-day pre-K and afterschool programs.
The Professional Staff Congress also commended the Assembly for passing the NYS DREAM Act and for its announcement that the Majority’s budget resolution would provide the funds to make the DREAM Act a reality. “The Assembly Majority’s support for the DREAM Act represents another major advance for the students and families of New York,” Bowen commented. “Together with the support for de Blasio’s UPK plan, it makes this potentially a milestone year for educational justice in New York State.”
Bowen called on both houses to provide the restoration of funding for CUNY: “Educational justice must extend to CUNY. Unless the Assembly and Senate add funds to cover inflationary costs and begin to rebuild the faculty, CUNY will be unable provide the kind of college education the people of New York deserve. Tax breaks for the rich are unacceptable when the people of New York are in such need of universal pre-K, access to college and high-quality public college education. We look forward to seeing the full language in the one-house budget bills and to working with the Legislature on continuing their strong support for CUNY.”