Our schools are in danger of Fiscal Cliff impact in a matter of days. That’s because nearly every program that falls under the US Education system will be hit with spending cuts—at least temporarily until a decision is reached. Here are more details on the tax hikes, spending cuts and the looming deadline.
Fiscal Cliff: US Education System Impacted
The automatic spending cuts that are set to hit just about every federal program, including most in the U.S. Department of Education, could go through, at least temporarily. For K-12 programs and Head Start, that would mean an across-the-board cut of 8.2 percent. The trigger cuts are known in Beltway-speak as “sequestration.”
And Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, who oversees the Senate panels that deal with both K-12 spending and policy, held a hearing earlier this year on the impact of sequestration on education. “If fully implemented, across-the-board cuts to Head Start, Title I, special education, and other programs could have a devastating impact on students, their families, and the entire nation,” said Sen. Harkin in a Dec. 27 statement emailed to Education Week. “I continue to hope that we can avoid that outcome by reaching agreement on a balanced approach to deficit reduction.”
The good news for education: The biggest and most important K-12 programs—Title I grants for districts and special education state grants—are “forward funded.” That means schools won’t start to feel the squeeze until next school year, giving lawmakers time to work out a deal, if they aren’t able to come to one before the end of the year.
Education isn’t alone here. The cuts would also hit a wide range of what’s called “discretionary spending,” including health, labor, criminal justice, and even military programs.
If you’re waiting to breathe a sigh of relief once Congress makes a decision, think again. This is just one of many fiscal cliffs we’ll need to brace for in the coming year that may impact US Education. This article shines some light on this dim topic.