The President and Congress worked overtime to avoid the “fiscal cliff” back at the beginning of the year. The problem is that there still is no budget in place and really no solution in sight. To try to force a budget deal, Congress has come up with a proposed five percent reduction to all programs so that lawmakers will work together to keep their pet programs from being affected by the cut.
What happens if sequestration becomes a reality and why should we care? From a strictly educational standpoint, the effects could be disastrous; so bad, in fact, that some school districts have already started to issue pink slips in preparation for sequestration. That is correct. Sequestration would have such a huge impact that some teachers are already losing their jobs.
Public schools nationwide could see an immediate impact on around 10,000 positions as sequestration would remove around $1.3 billion in funding for disabled and Title 1 (low income) students. There is also the possibility that some schools would have to shorten the school day or school year to make ends meet. According to a White House report, total education spending cuts would equal around $2.3 billion.
Sequestration is not solely an education problem but it is a huge concern for the education system. In addition to the cuts to education spending, there are cuts to other programs that will have an impact on the education system as well. Programs for women and children, such as WIC, will take large hits as well. A negative impact on nutrition programs could lead to a negative impact on academics. The Head Start program, which provides early education for low income families, will also take a big hit (around $600 million) and will have to lower enrollment by around 70,000 children in preschools nationwide.
Sequestration is not a budget cut to education in the traditional sense but it is still another example of education being used as nothing but a political ploy. Education has not been given the importance that it merits in the past and this is just another example that little has change in spite of the lip service given to the contrary. Education is the future of our country and our children, not a game piece in a partisan power struggle. Unfortunately, Washington has grown accustomed to stealing education from our children, like taking candy from a baby, and is ready to do it again. The country avoided the “fiscal cliff” but looks prepare to go over the academic cliff and into the era of “More Childs Left Behind” (misspelling intentional) on March first.