On March 1, President Obama put his signature on the sequestration cuts that loomed over Congress and the White House since the budget debates last August. Although Obama announced the need for more inclusive public preschool education and availability of post-secondary education through federal grants and loans in his State of the Union address in January, federal education funds took a big hit from the new cuts. Sequestration puts Obama’s education plans in jeopardy, but Republicans who oppose expanding federal funding for education, especially higher education, plan deeper cuts to the Department of Education in their proposed budget. In short, schools across the country must prepare for major cuts in the next few years, and students will feel the brunt of those cuts.
Sequestration, a White House fact sheet states, eliminates Title I funds for 2,700 schools and 1.2 million students affecting about 10,000 teachers and aides. The Title I program provides funding for schools serving high percentages of children from low-income families to help them meet academic standards. Cuts to special education drop federal funding for 7,200 teachers, aides, and other staff for both preschool and school-aged teachers. Preschool services, known as Head Start and Early Head Start, lose 14,000 teachers, assistants, and other staff through the sequester. Schools on military bases and Native American reservations, who cannot raise funds through property taxes, may close entirely since they depend largely on federal funding.