Sequester cuts hit hardest students and schools that can least afford the cost


by Tim Reed

The across-the-board sequester cuts are not only hurting students and schools, but the cuts are falling unevenly and disproportionately hitting those who can least afford the loss, according to recent National Education Association research and a new report from the American Association of School Administrators.

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The AASA report, Unequal Pain: Federal Public Education Revenues, Federal Education Cuts & the Impact on Public Schools [ed note: pdf link], takes a deep dive into education funding formulas to determine exactly how much federal funding is dispersed to individual school districts and which ones are losing the most. Taken together with research from NEA detailing federal revenues by state, and an analysis that shows students could expect more than $5.5 billion in additional education funding if the sequester was replaced, the picture is unsurprisingly bleak.

Some key findings from the series of reports show that:

  • 35.5% of schools had budgets in which the federal share was at least 12%
  • More than one-quarter of schools had an operating budget in which federal revenues represented more than 15% of total revenues
  • More than 6% of schools had a budget with more than 25% of funding coming from the federal government
  • One out of every six students attends public schools in a district where 5%-15% of total revenue is from federal Title I funding
  • One out of every ten school districts rely on federal funding for 20%-50% (or more) of their total revenue

Federal funding for schools is heavily weighted toward schools that serve disadvantaged communities, especially those that make use of Title I funds, which are intended to go directly to those communities with high levels of poverty. Also hard hit are rural schools, which receive federal funds to make up for a number of shortfalls, including drastically increased transportation costs compared to urban districts. According to the Rural School and Community Trust, two in five rural students now live in poverty, an increase of nearly a third in the past nine years.

Arizona educator and NEA President Dennis Van Roekel said of the cuts:

Educators continue to see ballooning class sizes. We continue to experience deep cuts to critical education programs, especially for low-income and students with special needs. We are America, and we are better than this. Students, educators, and schools can’t afford any more cuts. The time is now for Congress to reverse course, end the sequester cuts, close wasteful corporate tax loopholes, demand corporations to pay their fair share in taxes, and invest in students and public education.

Not only are these draconian sequester cuts affecting classroom learning for the most vulnerable of our students, but they have also had a detrimental effect on Head Start programs, college work study programs, school transportation, graduate student research, community college job training programs, school counseling services and more.

Find out exactly how much your state’s students stand to gain if sequester cuts are restored next year with this new chart from NEA.

Reader Comments

  1. WE ALL need to let Congress and O’Bama KNOW! Last year we came close to losing many of our reading specialists in the entire district. We’ve been told that if there are further cuts this year, some will definitely be gone. My school has 70 % Free and Reduced AND is a rural school to boot. Keep emailing and signing petitions and phoning and tweeting.

  2. I’m sorry, but when it comes to budget considerations, our government has become a common punk, hitting those who can’t fight back. This has been the norm for years now. It’s nothing personal — just necessary to maintain our upward wealth redistribution.

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