By Jasmine Berry
We’ve been hearing it all over the news. Fiscal Cliff. Sequestration. Expiring cuts. And for the past few weeks, President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner have been trying to come to an agreement on how the nation should be taxed and where the government should cut spending. The two met Monday at the White House for their third meeting in the past five days. Little progress has been made since discussion on the fiscal cliff began, but it seems things are finally picking up as the December 31st deadline to reach a deal looms closer and closer.
Sequestration is defined as the automatic, across-the-board cancellation of budgetary resources. Enacted as part of the Budget Control Act of 2011, Sequestration was enacted in effort to cut overall federal spending in absence of Congressional consensus on deficit reduction, and following the failure of the bipartisan, bicameral super committee. If a compromise isn’t reached by the year’s end, automatic federal budget cuts totaling $1.2 trillion will begin on January 2, 2013, and end seven years later.
So what would going over the fiscal cliff mean for education and public schools? Here are some of the major ways sequestration could affect public schools:
- Federal cuts to education could total an estimated amount of $3.5 billion to $4.1 billion.
- An estimated $1.2 billion cut to Title I grants for disadvantaged students—which means the potential loss of more than 16,000 teachers and aides, as well as denying funding to nearly 4,000 schools serving more than 1.6 million disadvantaged students.
- A $900 million cut to special education under the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act for the 2013-2014 school year. This cut to special education funding could mean the loss of 10,000 special education teachers, aides, and other staff providing support to children with disabilities.
- These cuts will cause class sizes to be increased, programs reduced, services eliminated and jobs lost.
- Education funding would drop to pre-2003 levels, although 5.4 million more students have enrolled in public schools and K-12 education costs have increased by 25 percent according to the National Education Association.
Here are some resources to learn more about the potential impact of the fiscal cliff and sequestration on our economy and education:
What is Sequestration? (PTA)
What the fiscal cliff means for local DC (Capital Community News)
The fiscal cliff in graphs and GIFs (Washington Post)
What is the fiscal cliff? (Council on Foreign Relations)
Sequestration cheat sheet (Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC)