A tentative deal in the U.S. Congress would prevent scheduled meat-ax cuts in funding for education, defense, and other key parts of the federal budget. Title I funding for the economically disadvantaged and IDEA funding for students with disabilities would be particularly at risk if the second round of the automatic cuts under so-called “sequestration” were to take effect. In the first year of sequestration, much of the budget damage was done to districts dependent on federal “impact aid” and to Head Start programs. But the damage would widen and deepen in year two.
If approved by both House and Senate and signed by President Obama, the deal struck by budget leaders this week would give congressional spending committees leeway to decide where remaining cuts within budget areas like education would occur. Chances are that Title I and IDEA formula funding would be substantially spared from harm.
Meanwhile, advocates for expanded access to pre-K are expressing concern that little room exists under the pending deal for any such new investment, even though educational research shows it would have major educational and economic benefits. However, the main opposition to the deal is expected from another quarter entirely—the far right of the Republican Party, where reducing budget cuts is seen as a defeat. The plan is expected to come to a vote in the House by Friday and in the Senate by next week.