Fiscal year 2013 is a little more than two months away and sequestration kicks in three months after that on January 2nd -- so it's critically important that we – and the American people – fully understand the consequences of sequestration and take steps to avoid it now.
The sequestration will put at risk all that we've accomplished in education and weaken programs that help children, serve families, send young people and adults to college and make the middle class American dream possible.
Let's begin with education:
Sequestration sends a signal that the United States is backtracking on its commitment to reform and its long-standing promise to promote equity through Title I and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA.
Based on the Congressional Budget Office's projection that sequestration will reduce programs by 7.8 percent, here's what we know will be at risk:
Read Secretary Duncan's full testimony:
Testimony of Secretary Duncan before the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations Subcommittee | U.S. Department of Education
July 25, 2012
- Title I funding would be cut by $1.1 billion, cutting off funding to more than 4,000 schools serving an estimated 1.8 million disadvantaged students. The jobs of more than 15,000 teachers and teacher aides would be at risk. Students would lose access to individual instruction, afterschool programs, and other interventions that help close achievement gaps.
- Funding for special education would be reduced by $900 million. That could translate into the layoffs of more than 10,000 teachers, aides, and other staff who provide essential instruction and other support to 6.6 million children with disabilities in every one of your states.
- On January 2nd, schools serving our military families through the Impact Aid program would have immediate cuts to their budgets. For example, the Killeen Independent School District in Texas would lose $4.6 million – directly affecting 18,000 children from military families. Military families make so many sacrifices for our country. Their children deserve a world-class education.
- In higher education, the Department would need to slash spending on contracts to support the processing and origination of student loans, which could cause delays that will hurt students as they make decisions about college and could reduce services for borrowers seeking to repay their loans.
- Up to almost 100,000 low-income children would be denied access to the Head Start program, which is critical to preparing them for success in kindergarten and beyond.
- 80,000 children would lose access to high quality care through the Child Care Development Block Grant.
The cuts are expected to begin taking effect in January under a process known as sequestration which was triggered last year when Congress failed to reach a budget deal. Under the plan, education programs as well as most other federal initiatives will be subject to an across-the-board spending reduction of about 8 percent.
Unless Congress acts, special education cuts would impact schools starting in the fall of 2013, Duncan said.
“We all know that there are steps we can take so we don’t have to start down this path that puts so many critical services to students, families and communities at risk,” Duncan told senators. “As everyone knows, sequestration does not have to happen and should not happen.”
If the budget cuts go through as planned, federal spending on special education would fall to 14.5 percent, the lowest rate seen since 2001, according to an estimate from the Council for Exceptional Children, a national group that lobbies on behalf of special educators. (July 26, 2012)