Advocates for education have a new, big posse to help fight those automatic spending cuts known as “sequestration” that are set to hit almost every federal program on January 2 unless Congress gets its act together and comes up with a big, sweeping deal to stop them.
The trigger cuts aren’t just for education programs (although Title I grants to districts, special education, and Head Start could all see cuts of roughly 7.8 percent according to the Congressional Budget Office). They’ll hit just about everything, including health, environmental, justice, housing, and other domestic programs.
In fact, nearly 3,000 organizations sent a letter up to Capitol Hill today, urging lawmakers to come up with a “balanced approach” that spares their programs, which they say have already “borne the brunt” of recent federal spending cuts.
“We strongly urge a balanced approach to deficit reduction that does not include further cuts
to (nondefense discretionary)programs, which have already done their part to reduce the deficit,” the groups write.
And they add:
Indiscriminate cuts threaten the entire range of bipartisan national priorities. For example, there will be fewer scientific and technological innovations, fewer teachers in classrooms, fewer job opportunities, fewer National Park visitor hours, fewer air-traffic controllers, fewer food and drug inspectors, and fewer first responders.
The letter includes signatures from education groups, including those that often find themselves at odds with one another when it comes to K-12 policy—such as The Education Trust, which sees an important role for accountability, including tests, when it comes to looking out for poor and minority kids—and FairTest: The National Center for Free and Open Testing, which is highly skeptical of standardized tests.
And it’s also got the signatures of a wide variety of state-level and national organizations that have little or nothing to do with education policy, such as the Crop Science Society of America and the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute.
Who is NOT on the list? A few big bipartisan, political organizations representing state officials (such as the National Governors Association.) Why? My guess: It could, at least in part, be that the letter—with its emphasis on avoiding further spending cuts to domestic programs—may track too closely with the vision of some Democrats on how to get to long-term fiscal health.