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Letter to Congress on Sequestration Cuts

July 10, 2012

Dear Representative: 

  • 16 million children living in poverty;
  • 21 million children relying on food stamps so they won’t go hungry;
  • Students whose schools have improved dramatically due to intensive work under federal school improvement grants;
  • Students getting extra academic help in after-school programs;
  • Young children from homes in which English isn't the primary language;
  • Students in small, rural communities;
  • Children attending Head Start programs;
  • Homeless students;
  • College students who help meet expenses through work study.

What do these and millions of other students across the nation have in common?  Looming “sequestration” cuts threaten to decimate funding for their education, shortchanging them and leaving us without the future engineers, architects, teachers, business owners, and other well-educated professionals necessary to a strong, competitive nation.  We need a balanced approach to deficit reduction that will protect our nation’s students and make sure those most able to do so pay their fair share toward a strong economy.   

In connection with the 2011 Budget Control Act, and absent agreement to further reduce the deficit, non-defense discretionary programs, including nearly all education programs, will face an estimated 8.4 percent across-the-board cut on January 2, 2013.  A new, detailed NEA analysis and shorter highlights summary reveal the practical and devastating consequences that  sequestration will have on schools, students, educators and the economy, barring action by Congress to replace it.  This new analysis shows state-by-state impacts of the cuts on a broad range of education programs, including Title I, IDEA, Teacher Quality grants, after-school programs, rural education, English Language Learner grants, and Career and Technical education.   

The pending cuts would arbitrarily take education backwards as schools, despite serving more students and facing higher costs, would have significantly less funding.  Education programs, including Head Start, would face a cut of up to $4.8 billion in 2013 alone.  Education funding would fall off a cliff, dropping to pre-2003 levels.  America’s elementary, secondary, and postsecondary schools have added 5.4 million students since 2003, and costs associated with K-12 services have increased 25 percent since 2003. 

The sequester cut would dramatically impact 9.35 million students by eliminating services, cutting financial aid and increasing class sizes.  As many as 80,500 jobs could be lost in early education, K-12 and postsecondary education. This would only exacerbate a dangerous trend of fewer educators and more students.  Since July 2008, the country has lost 312,700 public education jobs. This means there are roughly as many local school jobs today as in December 2004. Yet, there will be 847,000 MORE pre k-12 public school students this coming school year than in the fall of 2004. 

NEA believes Congress must take a balanced approach to deficit reduction, including closing corporate tax loopholes and ensuring the top two percent of all earners -- those most able to do so -- will pay their fair share.   Education programs have already suffered significant harmful cuts to both K-12 and higher education. Education programs cannot continue to be the source for deficit reduction while millionaires and corporations benefit from tax cuts and loopholes.  We must not balance the budget on the backs of children.  Those most able to do so must pay their fair share toward deficit reduction. 

We encourage you to review our new analysis as well as our shorter highlights summary to see the impact of sequestration on students, schools, and jobs in your state.  And, we urge you to fight for a balanced approach to deficit reduction that protects non-defense discretionary programs, including education, from further hits, while ensuring that the wealthiest in our nation pay their fair share toward economic recovery and strength. 

Sincerely, 

Kim Anderson
Director, Center for Advocacy

Mary Kusler
Director of Government Relations