Response to "Arne Duncan's Distracting Gaffe." National Journal Education Experts Blog
. Posted March 4, 2013The Schools Who Can Least Afford It By Dan Domenech
The problem with the Sequester is that no one ever thought that it would happen. It is $85 billion in cuts without rhyme or reason. Indiscriminate cuts made regardless of program demand or effectiveness that will, by virtue of its poor design, hurt those that can least afford it.
Last June AASA held an event at the Capitol, concerned that no one in Washington was paying attention to the Sequester. No one seemed to be listening. Throughout the Presidential campaign no one paid attention to the Sequester. It will never happen, was the response we always received. Guess what, it happened.
After pressing the Department of Education for more information on the impact of Sequestration, last July Secretary Duncan sent a letter to the state chief school officers advising them that Sequestration would not immediately impact school districts, but it would affect school budgets for the 2013-2014 school year. There was a discernible sigh of relief from superintendents around the country that were concerned with having to make cuts half way through this school year. That, in essence, is the problem that the administration is having in raising the alarm on the education cuts. Other than for districts receiving Impact Aid, school districts around the country will not be affected until next September, six month from now. AASA’s survey of superintendents show that for districts affected, those receiving Federal aid, an average of 4.8 teaching jobs will be eliminated. Parents will not become agitated until later this Spring when school districts begin the budget process for next year and announce the cuts that will be made as a result of losing 5.2% of their federal funding.
The school districts most hurt by Sequestration are the ones that can least afford it. It will be the districts with a high percentage of children on free and reduced lunch who receive the highest amount of federal aid. It will be districts with a high concentration of children with special education students who will see a 5.2% cut in their IDEA funds. School districts will have six months to plan for the cuts, but the results in September will not be pleasant. Not after five years of significant reductions in budgets, personnel, and services.