Lawmakers Must Protect
from Further Cuts
By Hilary Goldmann
ISTE’s senior director
of government affairs,
has more than 20 years
of experience in public
policy and advocacy. Her
column appears in every
other issue of L&L.
With the U.S. elections behind them, the White House and Congress are hammering out agreements on several
major policy issues that have ramifications for
the education community and for all Americans.
These issues include:
• Expiration of the Bush tax cuts
• Extension of unemployment benefits
• Sequestration (automatic spending cuts)
Sequestration in particular could have a
lasting impact on school budgets, depending
on its outcome.
How did we arrive at this fiscal cliff? In August
2011, Congress created the Joint Select Committee
on Deficit Reduction—the “supercommittee”—
and tasked it to find $1.2 trillion in savings over
10 years. If the supercommittee fails, automatic
across-the-board cuts will go into effect, slashing
programs this fiscal year.
Congress intended for the threat of these cuts
to motivate all sides to come to the table with a
compromise. But the supercommittee failed to
agree on a plan, and unless Congress and the administration craft an agreement by the end of December, sequestration will take effect on January 2.
This would affect school budgets in academic year
2014–15 and create 8% cuts across the board for
federal education programs.
According to an analysis by the National Education Association, if these cuts happen, Title I funds
will be cut by $1.2 billion, affecting 1. 8 million
disadvantaged students. Title II grants for teacher
quality will be cut by $207 million.
In July, the American Association of School
Administrators (AASA) conducted a nationwide survey on pending cuts and found that
90% of states and districts will not be able to
make up for the funding shortfall. The number
one casualty of these budget cuts will be professional development (PD): Nearly 70% of respondents indicated they would have to reduce
vital PD programs. The cuts will also hinder
digital learning. According to the AASA survey, 53% of administrators indicated that they
would have to defer technology purchases.
ISTE joins more than 3,000 organizations in an
effort to halt sequestration. In a letter to Congress,
we called for:
... a balanced approach to deficit reduction
that does not include further cuts to nonde-
fense discretionary (NDD) programs, which
have already done their part to reduce the
deficit. NDD programs are core functions
government provides for the benefit of all,
including medical and scientific research;
education and job training; infrastructure;
public safety and law enforcement; public
health ... housing, and social services; and
international relations. Every day these
programs support economic growth and
strengthen the safety and security of every
American in every state and community
across the nation.
The Coalition for Health Funding has resources for grassroots activism that I encourage you
to use. To learn more, visit tinyurl.com/8ajqo5p.