Money: Whatever You Do, Don't Talk About "Sequestration"
There's a lot of coverage and commentary on various NCLB reauthorization and waiver scenarios -- nothing's easier than speculation, after all -- but strangely little discussion about something much more concrete: the possibility that federal education funding will be cut 8-9 percent (roughly $4 billion) in January 2013.
Some reading material: Impact of the Budget Control Act's Across-the-Board Reductions NEA, School Districts Fear Slashed Budgets After Supercommittee Fails EdWeek, How the Potential Across-the-Board Cuts in the Debt Limit Deal Would Occur CBPP, Estimated Impact of Automatic Budget Enforcement Procedures CBO
I know, I know. It's so far off. And funding issues are so boring. Congress will probably figure something out at the last minute. But Harkin-Enzi and Kline aren't going anywhere. Waivers are going to go to a handful of states at most. The national average is much lower but I've seen estimates as high as 20-30 percent for the federal contribution to some urban school district budgets. That makes the looming funding cut the biggest, broadest, most immediate, most concrete issue out there. It's certainly something that state and local education officials I talk to keep bringing up.
Why not spend some time thinking about how states and districts would deal with a federal education cut, whether it would be a good or bad thing, and how Congress might decide to protect or target federal education programs in whatever post-election deal they concoct?