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Commentary: Sequestration And Our Children

Provided by Susan Uchitelle
Susan Uchitelle.

All of us should be greatly concerned that the continuation of the Sequestration will have an extremely negative impact on the future of our schools and our school age children. It adversely impacts education in many ways

Initially there will be a significant reduction in available federal money for schools that serve poor children, such as less funds for preschool, child nutrition, and federal money for disadvantaged children. And there are a myriad of other programs that gradually will be affected that provide for tutoring, lunches, and small group language learning for example. Our children in St. Louis will certainly be hurt. These government funds make a significant difference in their educational opportunities that will no longer be available to children.

For example, with Sequestration continuing, the St. Louis City Schools could lose as much as 5% of their federal dollars, which translates to anywhere from $3,000,000 to $5,000,000.  And Confluence Academy Charter Schools, for example, one of the many charter schools in St. Louis, could lose anywhere from $210,000 to $225,000, a very meaningful part of their budget. This is just one example among many of the possible adverse impact of Sequestration on schooling and the underserved in the St. Louis region alone.

Additionally there may be significant cuts in unemployment benefits, along with a large number of low income single women with children loosing their jobs. Some communities will manage to continue their quality of life while others will struggle to maintain reasonable standards of living.   

And just what does this say for our nation which is becoming more and more unequal? And at the national legislative level we seem to see a resistance to anything that benefits the less privileged.

There was the time in this country when these issues were at the forefront of the nation; when work towards equity for all was the norm; when we truly cared about the same opportunities for every one. During that time significant resources were poured into poverty schools. The St. Louis schools were winners during those years and it paid off for the children. Now we may soon see many of these programs no longer funded.  It appears that lower income persons who are already suffering will suffer more from higher unemployment.  Those whom have been unemployed for more than six months will see jobless benefits cut. We have already seen this month less new jobs in the nation than predicted.
While changes many come about slowly they will come.

If sequestration continues I fear the time may come when we see our underserved children and their families unable to maintain any quality of life. Lost jobs, not enough food for the family, and understandably angry parents.  I thought that our country had gone beyond those days and on to the goal of equal opportunities for all children.

What are our priorities? I know what they used to be and it is my hope that we can find a way to return to those values; the public good; social justice and equal access for all. That is what has made our country great. Do not let Sequestration destroy all of that.