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Making America Stronger Weaker

by Randi Weingarten President, American Federation of Teachers

The F-35 fighter jet is the costliest weapons system in U.S. history, yet it is virtually recession-proof and largely shielded even from the sequester. Production of the jets is spread across so many congressional districts that the F-35 program’s budget has been immunized by the legions of representatives ready to go to the mat for it. The program is not simply a “job producer”—it is seen as an investment in the future and our safety, as is educating all our children to high levels. Every congressional district has public schools and students, of course, yet they are bracing for unconscionable cuts as a result of the sequester.

If there is any fat to trim from education budgets after years of deep state and local cutbacks, the sequester isn’t intended to target it. The automatic spending cuts don’t spare highly effective or urgently needed programs—quite to the contrary. Some of the harshest cuts target programs that are critical for children who are disadvantaged or have special needs. These cuts will hurt—both today and tomorrow.

These actions weren’t unavoidable; they were concocted in the halls of Congress. As columnist E.J. Dionne observed, “The GOP has been using serial, self-created crises to gain political leverage.”

If some may benefit from this cynical parlor game, who stands to lose?

The 70,000 infants and young children who receive educational, health, nutritional and social services through Head Start programs would lose those services. The 1.2 million students who get targeted assistance through Title I to overcome economic and educational disadvantages would be denied that support. Funding would be lost for tens of thousands of teachers, including more than 7,200 special education teachers and staff…  (CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE READING)

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