Well, this is a little later than I wanted it to be because I have been kind of busy finishing up a couple of papers for a class that I took this summer at UNI. Thankfully they are now in the books, my class is finished, and I will have a reprieve until August 23rd when I start my next class. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the class and I learned a lot, but it was a ton of reading and writing! Students out there who may be reading please take note: I am still learning and taking classes. Remember our Hudson Learner Performance Goals: Internal Assets Builder. Never stop learning. For more on this check out my message for the class of 2012. Anyway, I am a little off topic here so I apologize. Guess I am just giddy with excitement in having this first core class in my doctorate out of the way!
For quite some time I have wanted to to a posting on sequestration but other things have come up. This evening (when I was taking a break from writing one of these papers), I took some time to check my Twitter feed and noticed some posts from Arne Duncan (US Secretary of Education) that caught my eye and put some numbers to the facts of sequestration.
Before I get too deep into that, let's take a few minutes and discuss sequestration, figure out what it is and what it means. First, we need to take a little trip down memory lane to about one year ago. You probably recall the debate that was going on in Congress regarding raising the debt ceiling. If the U.S. didn't act, all sorts of bad things were going to happen. The debate was framed around a group of law makers that didn't want to raise the debt ceiling without making significant cuts to spending. So, after a lot of argument (that ultimately led to the downgrading of the government's AAA Bond rating), they passed the Budget Control Act of 2011. Good news, right?
Well, here is what happened. By raising the debt ceiling, the legislation additionally called for the formation of a Super Committee, composed of six democrats and six republicans. Their task: Find out a way to compromise on a budget reduction plan of approximately $1.5 Trillion. Sounds pretty reasonable doesn't it? I mean, heck our politicians are pretty good at playing together nice in the sandbox. Should be a pretty simple task. (Please note: previous statements are dripping with sarcasm.) To encourage compromise, they wrote sequestration into the law as a fail safe measure. This is basically a big stick that was supposed to beat both sides into submission and ultimately forge a compromise.
They said this: You either come to an agreement on cuts, or automatic cuts are going to be enacted. The cuts were and are designed to be drastic and draconian. In fact, this was the point. If they created a monster (so to speak), they (Congress) would have no choice but to slay that dragon, thus preventing sequestration. In theory, this should have worked, but come on, look who we are working with here! Well, the committee met for about two months (September 2011-November 2011) before throwing up their hands and proclaiming failure.
Fast forward one year. In January of 2013 sequestration begins to take effect. During this last year Congress has had multiple chances to do something about this (and hundreds of other things) but continue to fight with one another. On top of it all it's an election year so that makes it even worse. About half of the cuts are supposed to come from defense spending so that has been what has been getting the most play in the media.
But what about the other half of the sequestration, you should ask? Well, it is coming from other areas of the budget, like education. Here are a couple of rough numbers for you to toss around and think about: A cut of $900 Million for special education. This is estimated to impact 10,000 teachers, teachers aides, and other staff. Here is another one: $1.1 Billion in Title 1 cuts. This will impact 4,000 schools and 1.8 Million students...and yes Hudson does receive both special education funding and title one funding.
Hey look at the bright side. It's only July. January is still five months away. Wait....didn't Congress just go on summer break this week?