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Voice of the people

Sep. 15, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

Sequestration will hurt school systems nationwide

Though Congress was able to avoid sending us over the fiscal cliff by the grace of an 11th-hour deal, the dramatic consequences of sequestration were merely postponed. As it stands, the March budget process included a 5.1 percent across-the-board cut to education programs that help students with disabilities, their families and the professionals who work with them. Education and the other programs facing cuts would not only dramatically impact students with disabilities, but students and families from low-income backgrounds as well. In our current financial crisis, sequestration represents a dereliction of our duty to those who rely on these programs to level a fundamentally unequal playing field.

According to a survey the Council for Exceptional Children conducted of administrators of Special Education, 95 percent say that sequestration cuts will lead to hiring freezes and/or layoffs and 77 percent say that these cuts will increase the strain on schools to provide services to students with disabilities. The bottom line is that every school in the nation will feel the effects of sequestration, and the strain on their ability to provide the best education possible for all students.

In the following years, these cuts will be even deeper. This is unacceptable. We must consider the potential impact of more cuts to education funds on children and youth, families, professionals and communities. We need legislation to provide schools the flexibility they need to continue to employ teachers and other specialized instructional support personnel to educate diverse students and ensure that all students receive the services to which they are entitled. The test of our mettle comes not in times of peace but in times of crisis. We owe it to all children to provide the schools and educational services they need to have the bright futures they deserve.

Ashley Reed

Huntington

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