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SEQUESTER TO HIT MARCH 1: White House Details Impact of Across the Board Cuts to Federal Education Programs in New Report

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“Education is the last place to be reducing our investment as the nation continues to climb out of the recent recession and to prepare all of its citizens to meet the challenges created by global economic competitiveness in the twenty-first century,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a February 14 Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on the impacts of sequestration.

On February 24, the White House released a report with state-by-state funding tables detailing how the “sequester”—the formal name for the $85 billion in across-the-board cuts to domestic and defense spending scheduled to occur on March 1—will affect federal programs, including education programs such as Title I and special education.

For Title I, the report projects a $726 million cut to Fiscal Year 2013 funding, reaching nearly 2,700 schools, 9,900 school staff, and potentially more than 1.1 million students. Funding cuts range from a high of $87.6 million in California to $1 million in New Hampshire. Special education funding would be cut by $579 million and could lead to losing nearly 7,000 school staff. The figures included in the report are based on a 5 percent across-the-board cut.

“Education is the last place to be reducing our investment as the nation continues to climb out of the recent recession and to prepare all of its citizens to meet the challenges created by global economic competitiveness in the twenty-first century,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a February 14 Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on the impacts of sequestration. “Indeed, I can assure you that our economic competitors are increasing, not decreasing, their investments in education, and we can ill afford to fall behind as a consequence of the indiscriminate, across-the-board cuts that would be required by sequestration.”

During the same hearing, Duncan explained that the impact of sequestration would not reduce funding until the 2013–14 school year for federal education programs, such as Title I, that are forward-funded, but he said school districts will be making decisions in April and May about which jobs to cut and which teacher contracts to renew. This notwithstanding, some students would feel an immediate impact, including military dependents and Native American students that receive support from the Impact Aid program.

“Fewer teachers and staff could mean larger class sizes, fewer courses or subject areas, less tutoring for struggling students, reductions in counseling, and more difficulty in retaining recently hired teachers,” Duncan said. “And local economies will suffer from the higher unemployment and the uncertainty of the staff.”

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