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Schools and the Sequester

October 15, 2014

You may be wondering what the “sequester,” or cuts in federal funding due to a Congressional budget impasse, will mean for Arizona schools. The estimated reductions in federal money to Arizona schools could amount to $17.7 million, but before we stock up on canned goods and head for the hills, let’s put in perspective what $17.7 million represents.

While the Arizona Daily Sun says “Arizona could face massive budget cuts across all public programs” because of the sequester, it’s important to keep in mind that Arizona’s total education budget is $9.7 billion. This means the sequester reductions represent just 0.18 percent of the entire Arizona education budget. Total per student spending has increased 9 percent, after adjusting for inflation, since 2000. Arizona spends $9,233 per child every year—a figure that has always seen regular increases and never seen a multi-year decrease, even after adjusting for inflation, for as far back as these data go.

Still, Education Week warns that sequester cuts may impact “districts serving high numbers of disadvantaged children, students in special education, and English-learners, along with those near military bases and on Native American reservations.”

Good thing Arizona has these students covered thanks to the Goldwater Institute’s work in education reform. Children with special needs or in failing schools, along with children in military families and adopted from the state foster care system are eligible for education savings accounts: bank accounts that can be used for online classes, private school tuition, textbooks and even college expenses. Parents use their child’s portion of funding from the school funding formula in the accounts to create a unique, challenging experience that specifically meets their child’s needs.

The Institute designed the accounts in 2005 and has researched and advocated for this excellent education option for parents ever since. Our work has helped make 1 out of every 5 public school children in Arizona eligible for these innovative accounts.

Parents and children deserve better than a call to run and hide because of these minor budget adjustments. If we’re really concerned about giving children the best education we can, then we should be informing parents about all their options, not trying to scare them.

Learn more:

Goldwater Institute: The Myth of Education Cuts and Why Money Can’t Buy an A+

Goldwater Institute: Education Savings Accounts: A Path to Give All Children an Effective Education and Prepare Them for Life

Education Week: Sequester Adds to Districts’ Budget Uncertainties

Arizona Daily Sun: ‘Sequester’ will cost Arizona millions

KVOA Tucson: Tucson-area schools bracing for budget cuts ahead of Federal sequester



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