Sequestration of educational funding will begin on January 1, 2013 unless legislation can be passed to exempt the education budget from the Balanced budget law passed in 2011. According to the Committee for Educational Funding, schools and educational agencies will lose $3.5 billion to $4.1 billion for the Department of Education along with a possible $725 million reduction in Head Start funding.
Each state will lose millions of dollars in funding for these programs. Administrators will have no choice but to cut staff, programming and services. Even though the full effect of the cuts for Title I for disadvantaged kids, special education teacher quality and career and technical education may not be felt until the 2013-2014 school year, the result is for funding to return to 2005 levels, with student needs and populations increasing to 2013 levels.
Schools across the country receive funds twice per year; once in July and then again in October. Many administrators have prepared their 2012-2013 school budgets with the upcoming challenges for 2013-2014 in mind. Since the reduction of funding could begin as early as January 2, 2013, many programs, teachers and services could be cut mid-way through the school year. The hardest hit will be those in the Head Start programs, Title I schools and students covered by the IDEA.
Many are concerned that the billions of dollars to be held back or cut will impact thousands, possibly tens of thousands of jobs. In fact, the National Education Association is projecting teacher job losses could reach at least 74,000 nationwide; those hit first will be the teachers. This will dramatically impact teacher quality for our children in special education programs. Student’s whose education depends on highly qualified teachers, smaller ratios and specific services will lose out. A greater burden will be placed on the families for support. Many families have at least one parent currently unemployed or have already spent everything they have on their child’s needs and services.
Some believe this will become a campaign issue. President Obama has already offered a budget that would try to avert the cuts. Mitt Romney would like to enact a short term deal that would allow for a longer term spending plan to be created. It seems that everyone agrees the cuts would be a disastrous path for our children, but it seems that any changes may have to wait until after the November elections. What will this waiting do to our schools, families, our children?
All children deserve the opportunity to experience a free and appropriate education. All children deserve the right to have dreams and reach for their potential. The possible budgetary cuts, this sequestration, will prevent our students from reaching for their full potential.