I got an (unsolicited) e-mail the other day from The national PTA (Parent Teacher Association) entitled "Congressional Inaction on Sequestration Harms Students and Families". The e-mail (here is the web version) says that the "National PTA disappointed with the lack of a bipartisan solution". The e-mail opens with this statement:
"The National PTA is disappointed with the U.S. Congress' apparent failure to reach a balanced, responsible deficit reduction plan to replace automatic, across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration." The e-mail concludes with this statement: "By not achieving bipartisan action to replace sequestration, Congress has failed our nation's children and their families."
The e-mail places the sequestration squarely upon the U.S. Congress. But nowhere in the entire e-mail is Dear Leader Barack Hussein Obama, or his role, even mentioned. The PTA said was "disappointed with the lack of a bipartisan solution," but forgot (on purpose?) to mention that House Republicans offered several plans to alter the cuts, but Democrats would not consider them, preferring instead to raise taxes. I guess bipartisanship means, to the PTA, doing thing the Democrats' way, while ignoring Republicans.
One result of sequestration specifically mentioned in the PTA e-mail is Impact Aid. From the ed.gov web site, we get the mission statement of the Impact Aid program:
"The mission of the Impact Aid Program is to disburse Impact Aid payments to local educational agencies that are financially burdened by federal activities and to provide technical assistance and support services to staff and other interested parties." [emphasis mine]
How ironic. There has to be a financial aid program to support federal requirements. And the PTA is decrying a reduction in this program. But, then, the PTA could be correct. If federal requirements are not reduced, but aid to support them is, a problem could arise. I guess it's easier for the PTA to lament the reduction of Impact Aid than to tell the federal government to "butt out."
And just what, you ask since the PTA will not, is Obama's original and ongoing role with sequestration, particularly with respect to education?
First, its origin. As Bob Woodward (of Watergate fame) wrote: "'Obama personally approved of the plan for [then White House chief of staff Jack] Lew and [White House congressional relations chief Rob] Nabors to propose the sequester to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. They did so at 2:30 p.m. July 27, 2011, according to interviews with two senior White House aides who were directly involved.' It's likely going to be lost on the public that the sequestration was dreamed up and approved by President Obama...[.]" And, as Dick Durbin (D-IL) said, "... sequestration was designed as a budget threat, not as a budget strategy. And, I think all of us understand that if it goes forward in less than three weeks it's going to have a dramatic negative impact on several agencies."
Now, on to the effects on education by sequestration.
On the February 24, 2013, edition of "Face The Nation," Department of Education (DOE) Secretary Arne Duncan said, "We don't have to be in this situation. This is not rocket science. We could solve this tomorrow if folks had the will to compromise, to come to the table and do the right thing for children and to try and keep growing the middle class." Compromise, indeed! Obama and the Democrats originated and pushed the idea of sequestration in an attempt to intimidate the Republicans, and to get their way.
Duncan is nothing more than a political hack who toes the talking points line. While on "Face The Nation" Duncan said, "It just means a lot more children will not get the kinds of services and opportunities they need, and as many as 40,000 teachers could lose their jobs... There are literally teachers now who are getting pink slips, who are getting notices that they can't come back this fall." The Washington Post gave that statement four Pinocchios, which means, according to their scale, Duncan told a whopper of a lie. So much for Duncan's veracity.