By Colleen Flaherty and Amanda Litvinov
President Obama and key lawmakers met this morning in one last attempt to avoid the sequester cuts totaling $85 billion that go into effect today. The majority of Congress had already left town for the weekend.
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Educators are outraged that inaction on the part of lawmakers means $3 billion will be cut from federal education programs 7.4 million students rely on, including those that serve at-risk and special needs students, rural schools, English language learners, homeless youth and young people aspiring to go to college.
“I can tell you that education cannot afford to have one penny cut from anywhere,” said Cindy Starks, a 6th-grade math teacher from Arlington, Virginia.
“It will be the neediest schools that rely the most on state and federal funds that will be hardest hit by this. I am truly sad that our legislators could not overcome their petty differences to figure this out. Cuts to education hurt us all, but most of all our most vulnerable.”
On top of draconian education cuts made in 2011, these across-the-board cuts rewind federal education spending to pre-2004 levels, although 5.8 million more children are enrolled in our public K-12 and post-secondary schools and it costs 36 percent more to educate them today.
At a press briefing held shortly after the meeting, Obama said this “series of dumb, arbitrary cuts” that will hurt the economy and cost jobs were not necessary.
“It’s happening because of a choice that Republicans in Congress have made. They’ve allowed these cuts to happen because they refuse to budge on closing a single wasteful loophole to help reduce the deficit,” said the President.
NEA President and math teacher Dennis Van Roekel was also distressed at lawmakers putting kids’ futures on the line. “Congress is playing politics with students,” he said. “Due to congressional inaction, a wall of indiscriminate cuts will come crashing down on students and schools.”
Here are three easy and effective ways to raise your voice against the across-the-board cuts!