The achievement gap between school districts in high-income neighborhoods and those in low-income ones is already more canyon than crack, and if $1.7 trillion in automatic sequestration cuts are allowed to go into effect on March 1, that gap could grow even wider.
Dozens of education programs would face reduced funding, but three crucial programs — No Child Left Behind, Head Start initiatives, and the Individuals with Disabilities Act — provide the most assistance to low-income students and also face the sharpest cuts if the sequester is allowed to go into effect, as the Center for American Progress’ Juliana Herman and Kaitlin Pennington detailed in a new report:
Altogether, the sequester would cut approximately $725 million from Title I funding, potentially affecting 2,700 schools, impacting 1.2 million students, and placing 9,880 education staff at risk of losing their jobs. [...]
Head Start and Early Head Start—a similar program for infants—both work to ensure that parental income does not determine whether a child will be able to learn during these influential years. But should sequestration happen next week, approximately 70,000 children will be kicked out of Head Start due to inadequate funding. [...]
If sequestration goes through, funding under the Individuals with Disabilities Act could be reduced by as much as $579 million.
In all, the report estimates, the cuts would impact as many as 1.2 million children, 30,000 teachers and 2,700 schools, the overwhelming majority of which will be from low-income communities.
Recent studies have shown the devastating correlation between income and student achievement. Since the late 1980s, the gap in metrics like college completion between students from high-income and low-income households grew by more than 50 percent.