With the start of the new school year, teachers are preparing themselves for the repercussions of sequestration cuts to education. Sequestration – the federal government’s initiative which stripped over $600 million from early intervention and special education programs across the nation and was opposed by CEC – has greatly affected school districts around the country, particularly those with a high proportion of low-income students.
In a September 7th NPR story superintendent of the Lancaster, PA school district, Pedro Rivera, shared how much his school district relies on federal funding to support funding special education, helping low-income children, as well as fixing rundown school buildings. The Lancaster district is just one of the many districts that are suffering from sequestration, which resulted in a total of $3 billion cut from federal education funds.
Stateline, the daily news service of the Pew Charitable Trusts, ran a story on Sept. 10th which highlighted the detrimental impact sequestration was having on special education across the nation. With a lower federal investment, Pew found reports of fewer special education services provided and layoffs of special education and related service personnel.
But not everyone has been affected so negatively. Many districts don't rely as greatly on federal dollars as others, so the 5 percent cut required by sequestration hasn't hit some districts as hard. School finance expert Michael Griffith states, that state education budgets are improving, which should help make up for the short-term losses in federal aid. But, in the long term, "there should be concern that the 5 percent cut will be institutionalized."
This type of assessment keeps Rivera and other administrators wary of what is to come. Rivera says that if sequestration cuts become permanent, other services that poor students and families have come to rely on will no longer be available.
CEC has been actively advocating to reverse sequestration and support a greater investment in all education programs, including special education and early intervention. Join us by telling Congress that the fiscal year 2014 budget – which is now under consideration – must include greater funding for children, youth and the educators who work on their behalf! Take action today!
Tell us: How is Sequestration impacting your school district? Share your stories by commenting below or emailing [email protected]!