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Sequester Will Severely Cut into Ohio Education Funding

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The much talked about sequester – the national government’s plan to cut spending across the board and save up to $1.2 trillion over ten years – will undoubtedly affect many different aspects of public life. However, budget cuts to one area in particular remain especially controversial.

According to the American Association of School Administrators, American schools should expect cuts of between eight and nine percent, or around $4 billion, which would “affect millions of students, classrooms and teachers by increasing class size, reducing programs and services and eliminating educator jobs.”

Obama himself recently denounced the sequester in his State of the Union address, saying that “most Americans … understand that we can’t just cut our way to prosperity,” and that as a nation, we should strive to “replace reckless cuts with smart savings.”

Education is of particular importance to him, as he also stressed in the speech. Obama reiterated the importance of early childhood education and the value of a high school diploma in today’s increasingly competitive workforce.

However, unless congressional Democrats are successful in implementing the plan they are expected to introduce this week – which would postpone the cuts for almost a year and replace the actual sequestration with an additional $110 billion in tax revenue – it appears that education will be hit particularly hard by these cuts.

In Ohio, schools will lose approximately $25.1 million in funding, according to a fact sheet released by the White House on Sunday. This puts an estimated 350 primary and secondary school teachers and aides statewide in a sticky spot, as their jobs are expected to be at risk.

Additionally, the state will lose another $22 million in special education funding for children with disabilities. According to the White House report, “Cuts to special education funding would eliminate federal support for more than 7,200 teachers, aides and other staff who provide essential instruction and support to preschool and school-aged students with disabilities.”

This information greatly contrasts the wishes for an improved educational system that the president expressed in the State of the Union less than two weeks ago. As the White House puts it, “Our ability to teach our kids the skills they’ll need for the jobs of the future would be put at risk [by the sequester cuts].”

With the plans still in their early stages, it is hard to make a decision about how to react just yet.

“We haven’t really done a lot of calculations because we have no idea what’s going to happen with that,” said John Charlton, a spokesperson for the Ohio Department of Education. “We haven’t really done too much as far as analyzing the funding stuff.”

Congress has until the end of this week to propose a policy change. While Democrats actively hope to lessen the impact of budget cuts, Republicans, according to the Washington Post, “have been working on a proposal that would preserve the cuts but give the administration more discretion over how to implement them.”

The GOP also does not think that the American public will feel the impact of the cuts as deeply as the White House has predicted, according to the article.

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