Over a year ago, the Budget Control Act of 2011 was passed. This was legislative action to enforce automatic spending cuts by March 1st. The only problem is that they were not supposed to happen. Instead, these proposed cuts were supposed to be so immense that they would force our politicians to reach a deal, but it’s March 1st and they haven’t. And now the GOP, Democrats, and Obama are pointing fingers at each other, trying to convince us whose fault it is. Yet, we don’t care about these he said/she said politics, because while they are trying to make amends and protect their public image, Americans have now taken an abrupt cut that will affect many public domains- from our Headstart programs to our airline commute.
This impending sequestration doom could have not coincided more perfectly with a leadership conference that I attended this past weekend. Held by the LBJ school, it was a networking experience where we interacted with emerging student leaders, as well as with seasoned veterans from many backgrounds who were leaders in their own right. We also listened to speakers, from the likes of Dave Levin and Melissa Stockwell. I’d like to bring Levin into our sequestration discussion.
One of the most influential, motivational, and awesome individuals that I have ever met, Levin is a true American hero. He went to Yale, became a member of Teach for America, and then noticed that there was something fundamentally wrong with the public school system in America and decided to change it. He founded KIPP, which is a public charter school program that helps students that live in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods. The actions of him and his partner, Mike Feinberg, have changed the lives of tens of thousands of students (http://www.kipp.org/about-kipp).
His lecture fanned many interesting subjects. He used funny anecdotes to talk about what types of things leaders have to do. These included asking why not, having grit, improving hard-to-change habits, and loving all of our children as if they were our very own. He said that the public school system in American is highly dysfunctional and offered a novel solution to solve it. This was to assign students to schools randomly, regardless of its location/ school district. This means, having kids who come from high income households be in the same schools as those on the opposite end of the income scale. And then having these students rotate every year. Can you even imagine the implications of this plan? There are many statistics that support the academic performance differences between students that live in more economically advantaged areas, as opposed to economically disadvantaged ones. If we payed heed to Levin’s idea then everybody would care about the performance of every school.
The reason I am adding this is because, as you can probably assume, education is a pretty big deal for me, and sequestration negatively affects our state of education. Over $725 million in cuts that help economically disadvantaged schools will be eliminated. Keep in mind that the majority of these schools have a majority of minority students. So, this is directly affecting the future of not only our Latino youth, but of America (http://politic365.com/five-ways-the-sequester-will-impact-the-latino-community/).
Another way in which Hispanic Americans will be negatively affected by these cuts is evident in early education programs. Headstart’s budget will be cut by $400 million, and one third of all students that enroll in these programs are Latino (http://nbclatino.com/2013/02/25/opinion-the-sequester-will-disproportionately-impact-latinos/).
I know that education is not the only sphere through which Americans will feel the cuts. These cuts will also influence military, airline transportation, unemployment help, and much more. However, I do think that education is where fellow Latinos will feel the brunt the most. This is because Latino academic performance is not faring well, (http://www.eastvalleytribune.com/local/education/article_3f533518-74ec-11e0-a558-001cc4c03286.html) and I believe that these sequestration cuts will only exacerbate the problem. It’s time for Latinos to be more vocal to their government. If we don’t, then the only direct tool that we have to control them -our vote- will be wasted.