Secretary of Education Arne Duncan warned lawmakers today of potentially dire ramifications if the budget blueprint put forth earlier this week by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., were to become law.
"We could see disastrous consequences for America's children over the next couple of years," Duncan said in remarks prepared for testimony before the House subcommittee that oversees education spending. "Passage of the Ryan budget would propel the educational success of this country backwards for years to come and that is a risk we cannot afford to take."
The Ryan budget blueprint doesn't actually propose specific cuts for K-12 education. But it does seek to significantly curtail domestic spending. Duncan's estimates were based on an 18 percent cut to education funding the department projects for 2014.
To put the cuts in perspective, Duncan said the $14.5 billion Title I program, which helps districts cover the cost of educating disadvantaged kids, could see a $2.7 billion cut. As many as 38,000 teachers aides could lose their jobs, he said.
And funding for children with disabilities could be cut by over $2.2 billion, meaning that 30,000 special education teachers, teachers' aides, and others could be cut. Special education state grants are funded at $11.6 billion this year.
And 100,000 children could lose access to the $8 billion Head Start early childhood program, which helps get disadvantaged kids ready for school. Head Start is a program near and dear to the heart of the panel's chairman, Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont.
Most folks don't expect the Ryan budget to win approval in the Democratically-controlled Senate. But the choices it makes, including the proposed squeeze on domestic spending, are sure to give both parties plenty of election year talking points.