My name is Marina Massaro, I am an Art Education graduate student, and my daughter Agata attends the City College Child Development Center. This service, offered to City College students, was a major factor in deciding if and where I would pursue my master’s. As a single, working mother living in a country that is not my own, I felt happy, relieved, and comfortable going back to school because the college offered high quality and affordable childcare.
The Child Development Center welcomes children between the ages 2-5 whose parents or guardians are City College students. The Center is a mixed age program, and its four classes are defined by concept rather then by age; there is a Family room, Woodworking and Block Building Room, Science and Math room, and a Creative Arts Room. The children experience each classroom during the day and are free to move around in them. The five teachers Audrey, Jennet, Delia, Akin, and Maribel work with my daughter and all the other students developing each child’s abilities, strengths, interests and needs. As Art Education student, I am pleased to see the important role arts play in the Center, and how children investigate arts in each room. In the Creative Arts room in particular, teachers Delia and Akin provide children the opportunity to express their interests through art and its material. Children explore multiple worlds and perspectives as they move in and out of play. Researchers such as Greene, Kisida, & co. (2014) confirmed how exposure to the arts affects the values of young people, and in particular make them more tolerant and empathetic. Young children in art classes are taught a remarkable array of mental habits, such as visual-spatial awareness, self-reflection and self-criticism, and the willingness to experiment and learn from mistakes (Winner and Hetland’s, 2007).
The Center has consistently provided high quality care and education to the City College Community for more the thirty years, but now, I, as many others, wonder what will be the future of the center. In 2012, Councilman Robert Jackson kindly donated to the Center $1.6 million for repairs-renovation to the childcare facilities. The City College administration is planning to close the City College Child evelopment Center during a long three years renovation (which is not really needed because the Center is completely in line with NYC codes and has passed all inspections to date), cutting off Federal and State funding, firing all the wonderful teachers. The City College administration is refusing to look for a space where to relocate the Center during renovation. We student parents fear the Center will never reopen or will be privatized, making it really hard for us to complete our degrees and build better futures for ourselves and our families.
We student parents created an online petition (go to http://tinyurl.com/CCNYparentspetition to sign it) to ask to the current members of the Center Board of Directors, who include student representatives such as the student government president Ramdat Singh, and to the City College administration to advocate on behalf of students and vote on the board to find an alternative location for the Center as soon as possible.
We are also organizing different events to bring this matter public. The first event will be on February 23rd when we will bring our children to class to show what it would be for us to not have the Center. We will also have a speak out on the NAC building at 12.30 pm. On March 4th going to be an event at the CUNY Grad Center (365 Fifth Ave @ 34th street) called “Stories of Struggle: Histories of Childcare Activism at CUNY” where the original activists who led an occupation that brought to the formation of the childcare center will be speaking. Please join us in our campaign, sign our petition and stay tuned for more events to come.