Friday, February 3, 2017

Forward, Not Backward: A Statement from JobsFirstNYC on the Nominations of Andrew Puzder and Betsy DeVos

A Statement from JobsFirstNYC on the Nominations of Andrew Puzder and Betsy DeVos

JobsFirstNYC urges the United States Senate to vote no on both Andrew Puzder's confirmation for Secretary of Labor and Betsy DeVos's confirmation for Secretary of Education. As an organization dedicated to ensuring that every young New Yorker has access to meaningful education and employment options, we urge Senate leaders to protect the rights and opportunities of all American workers and students by voting no on Puzder and DeVos.

Andrew Puzder, CEO of CKE Restaurants and nominee for Secretary of Labor, has proven through his words and his actions that he is not fit to lead the Department of Labor.

Mr. Puzder has been accused and found guilty of stealing wages from workers within his own business. His company was investigated several times by the Department of Labor over the past eight years and was found guilty of wage theft in 60 percent of the investigations. Moreover, he has settled millions of dollars in class action lawsuits for wage theft. He has spoken out against raising the minimum wage and federal overtime regulations, favoring increased automation over offering employees higher wages and benefits.

Puzder opposes and has actively defied enforcing many of the worker protections and worker compensation policies that enable workers in low- and middle-income jobs to achieve financial stability and opportunities for self-sustaining benefits.

More than 25 percent of 16- to 25-year-olds in New York City work in low-wage service jobs, and another 22 percent work in retail. These and other young and low-income workers are extremely vulnerable to the predatory practices of employers like Andrew Puzder. The Department of Labor needs a leader who will protect the rights of these workers, and Puzder's record as an employer and his outspoken stance against employees' rights proves he is not up to the task. We should be working to increase the quality of the low-wage jobs in which many of our young people gain work experience and launch careers, not endorsing leaders and policies who are working to do the opposite.

Betsy DeVos, a conservative businesswoman and philanthropist lacks both the experience and the values needed to lead the Department of Education effectively and equitably. DeVos, who is a long-time advocate for charter schools and voucher programs, does not hold a degree in child development, school leadership, or pedagogy. She has never even worked in a public school. She has spent her career politically and financially supporting charter schools over non-charter public schools, but of the 90 percent of American students who attend public schools, only 5 percent attend charter schools. Furthermore, charter schools are not accountable to serve students with disabilities in the way that public schools are. At her January confirmation hearing, DeVos would not commit to prioritizing resources for public, non-charter schools. Moreover, she could not answer senators’ questions around important education policy or common styles of American pedagogy, and she quoted false amounts of student debt increases.

Ms. DeVos does not support equal access to K-12 or post-secondary education for all students regardless of ability or income level. Currently, 13 percent of public school students need disability services and receive equal federal support through the Free and Appropriate Public Education as outlined in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Ms. DeVos thinks this responsibility should be removed from federal purview and left to the states. Moreover, while leaders in New York are working to make public college free for low and middle-income students, Ms. DeVos has no personal experience with financial aid and has expressed no interest in making post-secondary education accessible to all students. When asked about free community college tuition at her hearing she responded, "...we also have to consider the fact that there is nothing in life that’s truly free. Somebody has got to pay for it."

We join the ranks of organizations and individuals imploring the Senate to vote no on both Puzder and DeVos. Neither candidate has the vision nor the skills necessary to ensure that all students and all workers can thrive. They are a threat to our city and country’s young adults, and to our educational and economic prosperity. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Governor Cuomo Proposes Free College Tuition for Low and Middle Income CUNY and SUNY Students

Yesterday, Governor Cuomo announced a proposal to offer free college tuition to State University of New York (SUNY) and City University of New York (CUNY) students whose families earn $125,000 or less per year. The plan would include community college and four-year college students. Governor Cuomo has proposed a three-year rollout that would start in the fall of 2017 and include students whose families earn up to $100,000 and eventually include students whose families earn up to $125,000 by 2019. The Governor’s office reports that 80 percent of New York state households make $125,000 or less and estimates that 940,000 households throughout the state have college-aged children that would be eligible for the program.

JobsFirstNYC has been working for many years to increase college enrollment and graduation rates for out-of-school, out-of-work young adults in the Bronx through the Bronx Opportunity Network (BON). The vast majority of BON students attend Bronx and Hosts Community Colleges, both of which are schools in the CUNY system. Since its launch, BON has served a total of 490 students. Of these students, 223 have graduated or remained enrolled in college, representing a total success rate of 54 percent, which compares favorably to both CUNY’s overall figures and the rate of a comparison group of demographically and academically similar students at Hostos and Bronx Community Colleges. Additionally, the BON partnership has forged strong relationships with Hostos and Bronx Community Colleges, influencing a host of unprecedented policy reforms at both schools.

We look forward to following the progress of the Governor’s proposal and commend the many ongoing efforts to increase college access and affordability to young adults in New York City.

You can read more about the BON in our November 2016 report

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

What's Next? A Post-Election Discussion: Summary & Highlights

Last Friday, December 16, 2016, JobsFirstNYC held "What's Next: A Post-Election Discussion", a forum for national policy experts, public and nonprofit leadership, philantropy, and employers to discuss the economic challenges and opportunities the new presidential administration and congress could present for young adults.

The four goals of the event were to: mobilize local, state, and national leaders working toward the economic prosperity of young adults; educate attendees about the early policy and budget recommendations proposed by the president elect and congress, and how these proposals could affect young adults and the organizations that serve them; inform participants about what local and national organizations are doing to respond to and prepare for the next administration’s policy proposals; and prepare participants with resources, strategies, and a network of allies to best support young adults under the new administration.

The discussion featured national policy experts from all around the country who shared their expertise and knowledge around youth policy strategies under the new administration, as well as important projections and recommendations around labor, the economy, and jobs. These experts include: Kisha Bird, Director, Youth Policy at Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP); Angela Hanks, Associate Director, Workforce Development Policy at Center for American Progress. Melinda Mack, Executive Director at New York Association of Training and Employment Professionals (NYATEP); Andrew Moore, Director, Youth and Young Adult Connections Institute for Youth, Education, and Families at National League of Cities; and Anand Vimalassery, Senior Director of Policy at National Job Corps Association.

Important themes that emerged from the event were: coalition building and remaining steadfast with the many legislative and funding efforts advocates and field leaders are pushing to increase economic opportunities young people, including those around training opportunities such as apprenticeships; collecting and lifting up data and information on practices that are helping young adults gain education and employment; affecting meaningful political change on the local and state levels; and supporting young adult-led movements within our communities, our cities, and our country.

Check out a Storify of social media activity from the event below:

This event was the first of many upcoming JobsFirstNYC policy and advocacy initiatives related to our post-election commitment to young adults under the new administration. We will continue working closely with our local, state and national partners to elevate the voices and the needs of young people as we all work to hold ourselves and our elected officials accountable.

Resources from the event include:
Agenda and Speaker Bios
CLASP's Campaign for Youth Road Map
NLC's Reengagement: Bringing Students Back to America's Schools
NYATEP's Advocacy Academy

Upcoming opportunities to continue to discuss young adult workforce policy strategies under the new administration include the New York City Employment and Training Coalition's upcoming Policy Forum in January and National Skills Coalition's upcoming Skills Summit in February.