Ah, the plight of the middle class. Seems like we're always paying the most taxes and in return we get kicked in the ass. Last night, I attended my first PTA meeting. The agenda: save our After School Program. The Commissioner of Out Of School Time has considered our working class neighborhood "low priority" and wants to put us on the chopping block.
You know, I think I'll try using that excuse the next time my husband asks if he can get some.
"Hunn, I'd love to but right now I can't give you anything because your request, for me, is low priority. Goodnight."
I kid but this is serious. Losing the After School Program, I mean. It's disturbing when the system fails the people it's supposed to serve but as adults we know better than to rely on it. But for it to pull the rug out from underneath the feet of children is just plain wrong-wrong-WRONG. These "commissioners" don't understand that kids do not absolve our short-comings simply because there's a legitimate excuse. No, they remember them - forever.
Tell a child, "we don't care about you anymore" and see what happens. They go ballistic, they get high anxiety, they breakdown and it's all because they are tuning in to the primary fear of abandonment. And that's what this program cut is - abandonment. Now you see it, now you don't. Hey - look over there - whoosh! I'm gone. Keep your eye on the ball...aww, you lost.
When Assistant Commissioner Chris Caruso was asked to explain why cuts weren't made across the board instead of eliminating over thirty programs, Mr. Caruso's reasoning was it would diminish the overall services the After School Programs could offer. In other words, take it all away from three to overfeed one.
In order to operate five days a week, offer holiday camps and extended hours, over thirty schools will have to completely shut down their program so that schools that are deemed "priority" according to 2005 census statistics can continue theirs. I don't know about you, but I think if the parents and teachers and students of the surviving programs were asked to make a sacrifice so that everybody could continue to have them, they would agree unanimously. But why should the opinion of the People have anything to do with executive decisions - after all we were dumb enough to vote these officials in, in the first place.
I thought City Council member, Jimmy Van Bramer did a fantastic job rallying up the audience with his pledge to dedicate action "everyday" in restoring our funds. If you would like to help, you can write a letter to the Commisioner.
Hon. Jeanne Mullgrave
Department of Youth and Community Development
156 William Street
New York, NY, 10038
Our program is the SUNNYSIDE COMMUNITY SERVICES' AFTER SCHOOL PROGRAM at PS 150 Q in Queens, NY.
Thanks. I'll owe you one.