by Dennis Van Roekel
The end of the 2012 election is no doubt a relief to most Americans, but Congress still has its hardest work ahead. Over the next two months lawmakers must decide whether to avert automatic budget cuts that were set in motion a year ago, as well as the fate of tax cuts from the Bush era.
The process is bound to get ugly, and Americans weary of politics will be tempted to tune it all out. That would be a mistake, because colorful metaphors about “lame duck” and “fiscal cliff” can’t obscure the stark reality: If Congress allows massive across-the-board cuts to education programs, the consequences will be vivid and harmful to America’s children.
Even if Congress takes a balanced approach by allowing tax breaks to expire for the wealthiest two percent of Americans, some cuts to programs that serve children would probably still be unavoidable. If Congress fails to avoid reckless across-the-board cuts, federal education and early childhood programs will be devastated. Based on information from the Congressional Budget Office, NEA has calculated that 9.3 million students would be directly affected by almost $5 billion in cuts.