How does public education fare under the debt ceiling deal?

Public officials, including members of AASA, The School Superintendents Association, worry that flagship programs like Title I and IDEA will face "disproportionate cuts."

On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of passing a bill to suspend the nation’s debt limit through Jan. 1, 2025, as Congress races to prevent a “catastrophic” default. Failure to do so would pose a deep threat to public education, but some worry that we’re not in the clear just yet.

“The Fiscal Responsibility Act does what is responsible for our children, what is possible in divided government, and what is required by our principles and promises, said House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-California, Majority Whip Tom Emmer, R- Minnesota, and Chairwoman Elise Stefanik, R-New York, in a joint statement. “Only because of Republicans’ resolve did we achieve this transformative change to how Washington operates.”

The proposed agreement would essentially flatten federal spending on non-defense programs in the fiscal year 2024 as of this October while allowing a 1% increase in overall spending in 2025. While overall caps on spending are in place, some worry about the fact that there aren’t specified spending levels for individual programs.

The School Superintendents Association (AASA) issued a letter to Congress on Wednesday voicing their support for raising the debt ceiling. But they’d like to see certain K12 programs protected in the process.

“We support the role of the Congress in having the tough conversations that come with an annual budget and appropriations process; we urge the full appropriations committee to engage in bipartisan, bicameral negotiations that respect the broad programs funded, to ensure that final funding levels are tailored and reasonable, not blunt and careless, and to protect federal education flagship programs—like Title I and IDEA—from deep or disproportionate cuts.”

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U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona wrote in a tweet on Sunday that he applauds the White House’s urgency for “averting a crisis.” He also noted that the deal protects the department’s ability to pause student loan payments “should that be necessary in future emergencies.”

“I thank President Biden and his team for looking out for the 40 million hard-working Americans who will benefit from student debt relief and protecting our new and improved income-driven repayment plan,” he said in the tweet. “We will continue fighting for student borrowers.”

In addition, he notes that the House Republicans’ original plan would have made cuts equivalent to nearly 100,000 teachers.

“We still have work to do, but those draconian cuts will not happen,” he tweeted.

Micah Ward
Micah Ward
Micah Ward is a District Administration staff writer. He recently earned his master’s degree in Journalism at the University of Alabama. He spent his time during graduate school working on his master’s thesis. He’s also a self-taught guitarist who loves playing folk-style music.

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