From the point of view of many students at Mid-Manhattan Adult Learning Center (MMALC), hearing that their school–which offers basic education courses, GED training/testing and refrigerator and air conditioning repair training, and has been open for more than 50 years, being exclusively dedicated to adult learning and GED programs–will be having Democracy Prep Harlem, a charter school co-located inside of it, is simply heartbreaking.

Speaking with two of the students who attend MMALC, their biggest concern is if there will be enough space for both MMALC students and the new charter students. The Department of Education’s (DOE) plan is to slowly add charter school students grade by grade, slowly taking over space occupied by MMALC

Ricky Bush, a student at MMALC and a member of its student council, said: “Every year they have close to 3,000 people enrolling for classes, the GED program or the refrigerator and air conditioning repair program and majority of those people get waitlisted or they never get to attend at all because the space at MMALC is already so small. Taking valuable space away from a school that desperately needs space is taking away the opportunity for those who want to get an education or skill and better their lives.”

The first floor will be given to the ninth grade, the following school year will bring 10th grade, and they will be given the second floor, and so on. Other concerns of students at MMALC are safety. Because the normal high school cut-off age is 19–which it is here in New York City–depending on the state, placing students ages 14 through 17 with adult students 21 and over is illegal. One woman who attends MMALC says she is afraid for young girls who attend Harlem Democracy Prep and have to start the school year at MMALC. They will be starting the school with grown men, some twice their age whose pasts are unknown.

Bush also states that the DOE has plans to cut MMALC’s GED program, which is another big fear for students. Because MMALC also offers refrigerator and air conditioning repair programs, though it is not required, for most completing their GED course, only means they can move on to learn the trade of refrigerator or air conditioning repair.

The DOE told the AmNews, “We know the importance of great adult learning programs, and the proposal will not impact MMALC or the success of its students at all. Democracy Prep has an outstanding track record of getting students to college, and we are excited by the additional opportunities they will provide to students in this location. We have hundreds of successful co-locations throughout the city and know that these two organizations will be able to work together to make this an even more successful building for the community.”