The much discussed and long feared sequestration took effect today, imposing a 5.3 percent across-the-board cut to the federal budget, including the largest cut in history to the federal investment in education. It’s a rather remarkable turn of events for a policy of indiscriminate budget cuts everyone decries as misguided, inefficient, harmful, and a process that both Republicans and Democrats loathe.
Sequestration has been a slow-moving, bipartisan disaster in the making. Both parties entered into this fiscal suicide pact more than a year ago in the hopes of spurring political leaders to develop a more sensible, bipartisan plan to reduce the budget deficit. Unfortunately a balanced compromise could not be reached and, as a result, educators and students, as well as millions of other Americans, are the victims in this game of fiscal chicken.
The most immediate effect on education will be in cuts to Impact Aid. These are payments to local educational agencies primarily help offset the costs of serving federal employees (i.e., military personnel) and lost local revenue from federally-owned land. While the vast majority of schools and districts will not be directly affected until the 2013–14 school year because of the “forward funded” nature of federal education spending, the imminent cuts caused by sequestration may begin to affect school systems negatively earlier as school administrators proactively address expected budget shortfalls.
To address this issue, ASCD has created an easy way for educators to e-mail their members of Congress and demand that members of both parties repeal sequestration and come up with a smarter way to reduce the deficit while preserving important investments like education that promote our continued prosperity and security. In addition, we’ve created a resource page for educators to learn more about the basics of sequestration and the specific education funding that will be cut, broken down by state and program. There is also a calculator for educators to determine how much of the federal funding their district or school will lose.
Please take action today and tell us your thoughts on this topic. How will sequestration affect you? Is your school system taking action now to address the projected effects of sequestration?