Federal cuts will hit education and hurt students

Across-the-board cuts scheduled to begin March 1 will cost an estimated 1 million jobs nationwide and reduce services to preschoolers, low-income and special needs students, and college students who rely on federal financial aid, according to data released this week by the National Education Association and the White House.

MTA members are urged to call their U.S. representatives and senators to let them know that our schools and colleges need more support – not less – from the federal government. You can reach them via this toll-free NEA number: 1-866-293-7278.

More information is available on the Kids Not Cuts section of the NEA website.

“These mindless across-the-board cuts will hurt our students and slow our economic recovery,” said MTA President Paul Toner. “President Obama has called for a balanced approach to deficit reduction that includes tax increases on the very wealthy. Unfortunately, the majority of members of the House of Representatives have made it clear they want to cut Head Start, funding for students with disabilities and work-study grants for college students rather than tax owners of private jets and end subsidies for oil companies.”

The NEA has advised members that even U.S. representatives and senators who have publicly said they support a balanced approach to deficit reduction need to hear from their constituents since their strong advocacy will be needed to persuade Congress to change direction.

Because most federal funding for public schools has already been allocated for the current school year, many of the cuts to K-12 education will not take effect until after July 1.

However, cities and towns need to approve budgets this spring and have been warned that they should expect reductions in federal funds for the upcoming year. Many will likely issue pink slips to employees in anticipation of those cuts.

“Since districts with the largest number of low-income students receive the most federal money, they will feel the impact of the reductions the most,” Toner said. “That shows the degree to which this approach is bad for children and public education.”

The NEA has released data showing the areas where the education cuts are likely to fall. Projected losses include $10.7 million in Title I funding and $14.5 million in special education funding under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. In all, the NEA projects that these cuts will affect 119,000 students and cost more than 700 education jobs in Massachusetts – and more than 50,000 education jobs nationwide.

The impact on higher education will also be significant. As The Chronicle of Higher Education reported on Feb. 25: “Thousands of researchers will lose their jobs, thousands of students will lose their financial aid, and thousands of unemployed workers will be turned away from college work-force programs. ‘Sequestration is a reckless and blunt tool,’ said Peter McPherson, president of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities. ‘It would have severe, long-term impacts that would put our nation at an extreme disadvantage for years to come.’”