Unless a standoff between President Barack Obama and Congressional Republicans gets rapidly resolved, across-the-board federal spending cuts will be triggered Friday and set off a cascade of effects for public schools, including programs that serve English-language learners.
Title III, Part A, of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, provides roughly $730 million in aid to states and districts to support instruction for students who are not proficient in English. That aid pays for things like ESL teachers, bilingual classroom aides, and curricular materials for English-learners. So, if the looming cuts become reality, and the prospects for a deal don't look particularly good, English-learners and their teachers could feel the pinch, although how the cuts would be enacted at the state and local level would probably vary widely.
The National Education Association has an analysis of the sequester's impact on Title III, including a state-by-state breakdown of how much aid will be lost if the 5.3 percent automatic cut takes effect. According to NEA, states would collectively lose $37 million in Title III dollars, rolling aid back to a lower level than it was in 2008. In California, the state with the most ELLs at 1.4 million students, the sequester would mean a drop of more than $8.3 million. Texas would lose $5.2 million, while New York and Florida would lose $2.8 million and $2.2 million, respectively, according to the NEA.
Local school leaders have also been reporting how the loss in Title III aid and other education programs would impact their districts, reporting in surveys that teaching positions and programs would be negatively impacted by a reduction in funding.
For the most detailed explanations of what the cuts would mean to K-12 programs, catch up with Alyson Klein over at Politics K-12.