Massachusetts families this week are beginning to send their kids back to school, but for an estimated 2,015 pre-school students, there is no back to school.
That’s because federal budget cuts have curtailed the number of Head Start slots as part of the sequester. Meanwhile, other cuts in education are taking place all across the state, from teacher aides to programs that serve disadvantaged youth and more — totaling $47 million in cuts.
I believe that every child deserves a fair shot in life and that starts with a quality education.
Head Start, for example, helps disadvantaged kids prepare for kindergarten. It has a great track record of boosting kids performance, and actually saves us money in the long run because the students perform better, require less special education and other additional services, and earn more when they enter the work force.
Yesterday, I stood with Kim Auger, Everett Teacher and Union President, and member of the Executive Committee of the Massachusetts Teachers Association; and Pam Kuechler, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Head Start Association. We called for an end to these cuts, and thanked Sen. Warren for her support, and Massachusetts Fair Share delivered more than 5,000 petition signatures in support of our Kids, Not Cuts platform.
So, 2,105 is a lot of kids, but it could get a whole lot worse. The Ryan Budget would cut federal education dollars by 43%.
To me, as an organizer, this presents an opportunity. We know that something like 90% of people are against cuts to education, and yet we’re seeing serious cuts and Congress is proposing even more. We can and should be using this as a chance to contrast two different sets of values.
There is something about taking kids out of school that wakes people up a bit. And let’s face it, we could use people a little more awake.