While Congress is away for the summer recess, politics continues. There is a debate going on in the Republican party as to whether or not the Congressional Republicans should stand together and refuse to vote for a spending plan for the new fiscal year (beginning on October 1) unless funding for ObamaCare (Affordable Care Act) is stripped out. Some are counseling that the resulting impact of closing the government would have a negative impact on the politics that would be felt in 2014 election.
But would a closing of the federal government impact education? The answer in the short term is mixed. Most programs, like Title I, are structured to spend funds from the previous year. What would be lost is the ability for the work being done on the day to day issues of compliance; there would be no one to do that work. But other programs would be affected. Education research work would be stopped as that work is done using current year funding. Funding for Head Start and other early childhood programs of the federal government would be immediately impacted (they would have to shutdown) as they are also structured to spending funds in the year they are appropriated. School nutrition programs would be impacted as they too would run out of funds.
So overall, children living in poverty would be impacted in several ways, but instruction would continue.
The belief is that this will not happen, that there will be an emergency spending plan in place by October 1 however, the funding debate is expected to become hyper partisan, with an expected fight in mid-November to expand the U.S. government’s ability to borrow money to fund its programs and obligations. This is when educators will need to pay attention as this fight will impact what schools will have to spent during the next school year as most think that the debt ceiling debate will be tied to funding in the coming years.
Richard Long is the director of government relations at the International Reading Association, email@example.com. Find more legislation and advocacy resources in his Hot Topics blog.