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Sequestration's Precise Impact Still Uncertain for Parents

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Parents trying to sort out the impact of sequestration, which went into effect on March 1, may be hard-pressed to understand what is happening with the across-the-board federal budget cuts. They are not alone.

While educators decry the fact that the automatic across-the-board federal cuts have gone into effect—with an estimated $2.4 billion will be cut from the U.S. Department of Education's budget—what the fallout will mean at any given school remains to be seen.

In "Sequestration and Education: Frequently Asked Questions," Education Week writer Alyson Klein delves into what is known about the budget cuts, and the history behind them. Most schools won't actually feel the cuts until the 2013-2014 school year. "Schools have had time to prepare, but in many cases, the cuts would come on top of state and local reductions. Hard and fast figures on potential job losses aren't available yet," she writes.

Indeed, the Washington Post's Fact Checker disputed U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan's claim on the television show "Face the Nation" that: "There are literally teachers now who are getting pink slips" because of sequestration. PolitiFact.com is one of the sources that vetted this statement. "The lone example of actual pink slips is [a] West Virginia district. And officials there provide a contradictory explanation for why 104 teachers are being notified their jobs might be transferred, and eventually eliminated," PolitiFact wrote. That makes the claim, at least for now, "mostly false," according to PolitiFact's judgment.

The National PTA wasted no time in coming out against Congress' inaction to avert sequestration.

"Education now faces the largest cuts in history, and our nation's families and schools are confronting the fact that curriculum supports and vital school and community programming for our highest-need students will decrease. Every single one of National PTA's nearly 5 million members will suffer the consequences of this avoidable situation," National PTA President Betsy Landers said in a statement released by PTA on March 1.

"Funding streams for high-poverty schools, students with special needs, and military and Native American students are receiving the most devastating blows," she continued in the statement. "Cuts of this magnitude not only strip critical learning opportunities from our children, but they also harm the economy. In addition to the immediate cut in teachers' paychecks, today's sweeping cuts will profoundly impact our future ability to prepare college- and career-ready students and develop a skilled workforce."

To keep up with news about education's impact from sequestration, check out Education Week's Politics K-12 blog written by Klein and Michele McNeil.

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