Tonight, Congress ended its 16 day shutdown of the federal government by passing a short-term spending agreement that will continue to fund education programs at FY13 levels. During the shutdown, 90 percent of U.S. Department of Education staff members were furloughed, local educators’ requests for technical assistance and guidance went unanswered, countless field trips were cancelled, and thousands of children were temporarily denied Head Start services—all because Congress failed to deliver on one of its core responsibilities.
But those shutdown consequences are mere inconveniences compared to the damage that the federal education budget is inflicting on the U.S. education system. The first sequestration cuts to education, which went into effect this school year, slashed approximately 5 percent from all education programs, including a loss of $726 million from Title I funding for disadvantaged students and $579 million from special education. The agreement reached today does nothing to address this irresponsible disinvestment in our nation’s future, the next sequestration cut scheduled to occur in January, nor to the annual sequestration cuts to be made in each of the next eight years.
ASCD believes that it is reckless and unsustainable for federal lawmakers to significantly erode our education resources. Indiscriminate and ongoing cuts of this magnitude will have dire consequences for our schools and students. Now that the federal government is fully operational again, it is imperative that Congress make the strategic investments in education to help close achievement gaps and equip all students with the knowledge and skills they need to assure our country’s economic competitiveness and global leadership for years to come.