The organizing arm of the never ending Obama campaign, Organizing for Action, sent out an email to supporters yesterday telling them "this isn't meant to scare you" but....your kids are no longer safe at school thanks to sequester. Not surprisingly, they're using children who will go without food to make their argument.
Megan Allen is a fifth-grade teacher in Tampa, Florida. At her elementary school, 90 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced lunch.
Many live in poverty, with unstable home lives — some have parents in prison, others go hungry over the weekends. But at school, they’re winning science fairs, challenging themselves, and eating two hot meals a day.
For Megan’s 36 fifth graders, school is a safe place. The budget cuts known as the sequester could change that.
In the county where Megan teaches, 142 schools stand to lose $3 million in funding. The sequester could also slash as much as $2 million in federal funding for special education.
When those cuts kick in, Megan’s students could lose teachers that help them every day — for example, the folks who coach them through tricky arithmetic, or give those who are having reading trouble the special attention they need. The Head Start programs that got these students ready for kindergarten will be dramatically cut down. Their class sizes could go up, leaving less time for individual attention.
The sequester isn’t a list of numbers made up to scare you. It’s a very real thing that will negatively impact real people — like Megan’s 36 students and their families. [...]
Thanks for speaking up.
National Director of Issue Campaigns
Organizing for Action
Everybody panic! When sequester officially started over a week ago, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan claimed teachers were "literally" getting pink slipped and then had to walk the statement back. The Washington Post fact-checker gave him four pinocchios for the claim.
Duncan’s claim, on one of the Sunday morning shows, that teachers were already getting pink slips because of the looming sequester was actually the second time he had made this assertion.
“I was on a call yesterday, people are starting to give RIF [reduction in force] notes,” Duncan said in a meeting with reporters Feb. 21, three days before his appearance on CBS. “Schools are already starting to give teachers notices.”
Oddly, however, the Education Department for days was unable to cough up the name of a single school district where these notices had been delivered. Then, on Wednesday, Duncan appeared before the White House press corps and produced a name — Kanawha County in West Virginia — with a major league caveat. “Whether it’s all sequester-related, I don’t know,” he said.
Duncan’s spokesman, Daren Briscoe, said in an e-mail that “the information shared on the call was that just over 100 teachers and Head Start teachers had received layoff notices.”
There is little debate that across-the-board spending cuts in education funding will cause pain for some schools and states. But there is no reason to hype the statistics — or to make scary pronouncements on pink slips being issued based on misinformation.
Indeed, Duncan’s lack of seriousness about being scrupulously factual undercuts the administration’s claim that the cuts are a serious problem.
Duncan made this claim not once, not twice, but three times. Let this be a teachable moment for him: Next time, before going on television, check your facts.
Not to mention, as I wrote last week, there are $67 billion worth of taxpayer savings annually available right now, 78 percent of sequestration, that haven't been implemented by the Obama administration.
Last week, the Oversight Committee reviewed report data showing federal agencies held more than 894 lavish conferences last year, costing more than $100,000 each and totaling $340 million for taxpayers.
Further, a Committee report released today revealed waste-cleanup recommendations from non-partisan Inspector Generals working across the federal government, which would save taxpayers $67 billion per year, have not been implemented. Backlogs of unimplemented recommendations have grown to 16,906.
“This report chronicles $67 billion in unimplemented reforms that non-partisan Inspectors General have identified,” said Committee Chairman Darrell Issa. “President Obama should listen to the recommendations of his Administration’s own Inspector Generals and work with Congress to implement common sense spending cuts that target wasteful and poorly performing programs instead of settling for the furloughs and service disruptions happening under the sequester.”
Considering the Education Department doesn't know how much money it spends on swanky conferences, the alarm bell in the email above has little credibility.
Republican Rep. Jim Jordan asked Education Department Deputy Secretary Anthony Miller and Transportation Department Deputy Secretary John Porcari how much money has been spent on travel, conferences and consultants. Jordan was told the departments do not think additional savings can be found when it comes to conference spending and travel for government employees. Jordan's line of questioning included the now infamous 2010 GSA conference in Las Vegas which cost taxpayers $840,000.
One parting thought: When did it become the taxpayer's responsibility to feed children at school? If your responsibility as a parent isn't to feed your child, then what is?