If we were to start a list of what’s on the chopping block under a GOP-favored budget plan, you’d be astounded. According to House Democrats, an alarming number of educators could be ousted from their classrooms – around 220,000, to be exact. That’s right, folks, we’re staring down the barrel of a gun pointed at our public education system.
The Republican-controlled appropriations subcommittee has advanced a funding bill that screams austerity measures. A close to $64 billion reduction to Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, is being put on the table for the upcoming fiscal year. If you think the cost is just monetary, you’re sadly mistaken. As the Democrats have stated, this bill threatens to obliterate support for K-12 and early childhood education and essentially leaves low-income workers and college students out in the cold.
The Committee for Education Funding, a nonprofit group, has raised the alarm. We’re not just talking about minor cutbacks to extracurricular programs; this proposition could strike a blow at “virtually all” education programs. Teacher funding, student aid, and more hang in the balance. The Department of Education would find itself facing a funding shortage that takes us all the way back to 2006 levels.
We’re hearing from Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), a top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, who dubbed this a “widespread attack on public education.” You’d think public education was Public Enemy No. 1 with the way the GOP is charging forward.
Where will these cuts hit hardest? Try Title I grants that currently support local educational agencies in assisting children from low-income families. The GOP has its sights set on slashing nearly $15 billion from these grants, a move that could forcibly subtract 220,000 teachers from classrooms serving these vulnerable students. We’re already grappling with a teacher shortage, and this could further add fuel to the fire.
Not stopping there, the GOP’s budget axe swings toward several Education Department programs such as Federal Work-Study, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, Promise Neighborhoods, and Child Care Access Means Parents in School. All of these programs could face total defunding. To quote Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), this is indeed “disgraceful”.
Simultaneously, other crucial programs and agencies face the guillotine. Labor, health, and medical research programs are being targeted, with massive cutbacks proposed for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Job Corps, the National Institutes of Health, and even the CDC.
Worst of all, amidst the rising number of mass shootings, funding for the CDC’s Firearm Injury and Mortality Prevention Research would be slashed to zero. Let that sink in for a moment.
Even as this fiscal assault unfolds, another GOP-led committee is actively working to extend tax cuts for the rich. As the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) aptly put it, “Their values are showing—and they’re not pretty.”
As we race towards the September 30 deadline to avoid a government shutdown, it’s clear that the GOP’s myopic drive for austerity measures has reached an alarming level. These proposed cuts threaten not just our education system but also our health, labor rights, and vital federal programs. We, the youth and millennial generation, need to hold our elected officials accountable and fight for our future.