The federal government is now into its second day of being shut down, which means different things for different people. For the average American, not much is going to change. However, there is one governmental department which touches many (too many, some would argue) lives: The Department of Education. The question is will a government shutdown really make a difference to the majority of American families who have school age children?
The answer to that partially depends on how long the government remains closed for business. Programs like Race to the Top and Promise Neighborhoods are funded through the end of the year. They are safe unless the government remains shut down past then, which is virtually impossible. Head Start programs have been cut around the country, as it is a federal program, and it’s possible more will be cut as the shutdown goes on.
Cuts have extended beyond those programs as well, however. Last week, the Department of Education released a contingency plan. K-12 school districts will still be paid through the first week of October with grants that have already been appropriated, but funding past that point is uncertain. In the meantime, 94 percent of Department of Education employees have been furloughed. Some could be called back next week, but that number is unlikely to exceed 6 percent of total staff.
That’s right, 94 percent of Department of Education employees are deemed non-essential, as education is (thankfully, for now) administered mostly at the state and local level. If you’re running a business that doesn’t require 94% of its employees in order to function properly, wouldn’t it be time to rethink the way you’re doing things? Time for the government to do the same starting, perhaps, with those involved in educating the nation’s children.