Government shutdown and public education
Although federal funds that public schools expect for this academic year already are approved and in the pipeline, ripple effects and ancillary impacts from the October 1, 2013, government standoff still are inevitable. These jarring effects magnify with any continuing length on the shutdown.
Payments after one week needs excepted employees
At the U.S. Department of Education’s website, the Department’s contingency plan calls for a 94% employee furlough in response to the government shutdown. The U.S. Department of Education’s ED Contingency Plan for Lapse in FY 2014 Appropriation states “It is assumed that the G-5 system for making payments to grantees—either grants awarded in prior years or those made with mandatory or carryover appropriations—would continue to operate under contracts obligated in 2013—at least for the first week. For a lapse of more than a week, Department staff would be needed as excepted employees to monitor the contractors and resolve any issues.”
Formula grants to states planned to continue
It is planned that “formula grants to States under Titles I and II of ESEA, IDEA Part B State Grants, and Career and Technical Education” should not be disrupted. These funds already are appropriated, do not require further Congressional authorization, and are included in the 2013 appropriation. The U.S. Department’s plan states that “Particularly in light of recent Federal and state funding reductions, the Department considers the October obligation of advance appropriations for formula grants to States under Titles I and II of ESEA, IDEA Part B State Grants, and Career and Technical Education as a necessary exception requiring a limited number of employees to work in the absence of an appropriation of separate administrative funds.” In other words, it is planned that formula grant payments to states for public education would be made.
What about Pell Grants and Federal Direct Student Loans?
Pell Grants and Federal Direct Student Loans are part of approximately 20 non-mandatory programs. If the government shutdown continues beyond one week, cash flow to other programs are less certain. The plan indicates “Obligations and payments from these programs may continue, dependent on the length of the lapse. Only those grant activities which, if not continued, would prevent or significantly damage the execution of funded functions (the “significant damage standard”) will continue on a limited basis after a lapse of one week and continue through a short-term shutdown.” For over 14 million students, who receive student aid in the Pell Grants and Direct Student Loans programs at over 6,600 schools, the threat of a protracted shutdown must be nerve wracking to them and their families.
What about “Race to the Top” funds?
At least through the end of 2013, payments to Race to the Top programs will be made. The U.S. Department of Education’s contingency plan indicates “Three programs – Race to the Top, Investing in Innovation, and Promise Neighborhoods – have funds that are available through December 31, 2013, and must be obligated by this date.” Payments are ensured through the end of the year, but more immediately, school districts working with the U.S. Department of Education on those programs, who have questions on implementation, will not be getting their questions answered.
Shutdown impacts integral continuity
Disruption of the normal operations of the U.S. Department of Education cannot help but ripple into the lives of ordinary American families. John Dewey indicated, “Education is life itself.” The smooth continuity of education is a pivotal responsibility of government to our nation’s learners and their families, and its disruption is inexcusable.
Find the take in this article to be helpful? National and Local Education as well as National and International Travel materials come from a husband and wife creative team, who travel extensively as photonaturalists and writers. One is an experienced scientist with a doctorate in Material Sciences and background in pharmaceutical and optics research. The other is former Vice President of GKE (Global Knowledge Exchange), who served as a US Web-based Education Commissioner during the Clinton administration, and was a former US National Tech&Learning Teacher of the Year.
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