Today, US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan testified in front of the US House of Representatives Education and the Workforce Committee about the President’s budget request, the Administration’s view of the Ryan Budget currently being debated on the House floor, and about the potential consequences of sequestration, the automatic cuts set to begin in January of 2013. In today’s hearing, Duncan faced tough questions and gave the most detail yet about how worried the Administration is about the looming cuts to education.
Let’s start with the Ryan Budget: While the Ryan Budget, which is being considered by the full House of Representatives (this week!! Send a letter opposing this budget – click here.) does not specify how much the government could spend on specific programs, like IDEA, it sets the overall number the government can spend so low that the Department of Education’s calculations indicate IDEA Part B Grants to States would be cut by $2.2 billion dollars. This is a number which makes education almost unsustainable at current levels. And it cannot be seen in isolation because right around the corner is …
Sequestration: Last summer’s debt showdown ended with an agreement to raise the debt ceiling; but it also included another $1.2 trillion in savings – which could either be found by the so-called Supercommittee or through a process called “sequester.” The Supercommittee failed, so the sequester is triggered. Sequester means automatic across the board cuts. While some programs are exempt from this, meaning they cannot be cut, education is not excluded. Education will be cut. Thus, unless Congress changes the law, on January 2, 2013, every education program will be cut by 7.8%-9.1%.
Sequestration Reality: IDEA cut by $900 million; 10,000 Jobs lost: Duncan gave the starkest idea yet about what sequestration will mean for education. He said that the Department of Education is currently working on tables that will tell states exactly how much money they will lose under the sequester. Early estimates indicate IDEA will be cut by over $900 million nationally. Duncan testified that this cut will result in a loss of jobs of over 10,000 special educators, paraprofessionals and others who work with children and youth with disabilities. These cuts will devastate services to children and youth with disabilities, especially at such a fragile time for our economy. Furthermore, as he testified “it is unfathomable to ask students to pay the price for adult dysfunction.”
What is CEC doing? CEC is joining with its many coalition members in the nation’s capital and around the country to oppose the sequester and encourage Congress and the Administration to as Duncan testified, “avoid a sequester by passing a balanced deficit reduction measure including targeted savings that total at least as much as the $1.2 trillion that was required by the Budget Control Act.” This will be our guiding message this year.
How can you help? Start by sending a letter to your Representative and letting them know that you oppose the House Budget Resolution. Click here. Next, send a letter to your Senator and tell him/her to support Senate Bill 1403 the IDEA Full Funding Act. Keep Congress’s Promise! Click here. Finally, watch the Policy Insider for upcoming events like a free webinar, a virtual hill day and other ways to let Congress know they need to protect education funding. Stay Tuned! Together we can make a difference.