Sequestration and Your District: The Actual Impact and How to Raise Awareness

As schools start looking towards gearing up for their new school year, many are forced to confront a drastic reduction in federal funding due to the sequester cuts that took place this year on March 1. While these cuts did not take place instantaneously, the Department of Education’s budget was among those non-defense discretionary funds that took an automatic, 5%, across-the-board spending reduction, to impact schools beginning with the 2013 school year. According to the Department of Education’s blog, the sequester cut Title I funding by $725 million, which affects 1.2 million students in disadvantaged schools and risks the jobs of about 10,000 teachers and aides. $600 million was cut from the IDEA program, which means states and districts now have to cover the cost of approximately 7,200 special education teachers, and aides. The Head Start program also took a hit, potentially affecting nearly 70,000 students in the program. The Department’s blog also includes a state-by-state breakdown of the cuts, released by the White House, as well as a look at how it impacts the 100 largest districts in the country. All told, there is a loss of nearly $5 billion education dollars.

While all of these numbers can seem abstract and difficult to realize at a local level, in practice what they mean are larger classroom sizes, fewer teachers, a reduction of elective courses, cuts to after-school programs or student enrichment opportunities, and less access to quality early education. The National PTA has created a Sequestration Toolkit page to help you effectively advocate against the sequestration cuts. In addition to background information, National PTA has prepared templates for writing letters to your local and regional newspapers and your members of Congress to highlight the impact of sequestration on your district and regional schools. Utilizing the sequestration “invoice” available on our toolkit page, you can take some time to talk to your district leaders about how sequestration will affect your local schools during the 2013-2014 school year then rally your local PTA unit and community members to “take action!”

While it may seem like it is too late to change the sequestration cuts because the law took effect in March, the upcoming school year is actually a great time to remind Congress of the law’s damaging effects to education!  The cuts have the potential to stay in place for 10 years if not reversed, so parents, families, and community members must continue to voice their opposition to the cuts. State and local PTA units can take the lead in advocating to end the sequester funding reductions. Be sure to share your sequester stories with PTA in the comments section below!

For state-specific information on the sequester’s education budget impact, you can check out the National Education Association’s state-by-state impact assessment. To gain an understanding of the sequester’s effect on the budget as a whole, check out the video below from NDD United.

Erica Lue is an Advocacy Coordinator for the National PTA in Alexandria, VA.  Contact Erica at

August Recess Advocacy: Reach Out at Home

Newly appointed Legislative Committee Chair Stella Edwards spoke eloquently in her introductory letter about the need for PTA leaders and members to come together and effectively advocate for the mission of the PTA. In keeping with the spirit of Ms. Edwards’ call to action, it is important to take advantage of the many opportunities for advocacy. PTA members should look for ways to “Take Action.” One important way for members to Take Action is to establish and maintain relationships with their elected leaders, including their Members of Congress.

PTAMinneostaFranken While it may seem like August is not the “right” time to reach out to Members of Congress because they are not in Washington, it actually presents PTA members with a wonderful opportunity to form a relationship with their government leaders right at home.National PTA, as the largest child advocacy organization in the country, has a unique ability to reach out to Congress to promote its goals, but it takes the assistance of all our members to make a true impact.
FloridaPTAMurphy Utilizing Congressional recesses to make a connection with your federal representatives in Congress can go a long way in garnering support for PTA’s legislative priorities.This August, meet with one of your legislative leaders while they are on August recess. Meeting with Congressional members in their district offices presents an occasion for both state leaders and local PTA members to establish themselves as a knowledgeable local voice for parents, teachers, and children.
NDPTAHeitkamp If you cannot set up a meeting with your member, attending a town hall meeting is another great way to make a connection with your elected official. If you’re a new PTA leader, it gives you a chance to introduce yourself and PTA and establish a relationship right from the start.National PTA offers its leaders and members many resources for providing effective advocacy. You can visit our advocacy page to find information on PTA’s federal public policy.

The advocacy website has resources related to the Common Core standards, including an advocacy training link and articles of interest, and the Government Affairs department has prepared an advocacy toolkit to help members and state leaders maximize their local grassroots organizing efforts. Be sure to subscribe to our PTA Takes Actionnewsletter and our action alerts! Also check back on this blog every Thursday for great ideas on building grassroots support for our PTA priorities. Feel free to reach out to National PTA’s Advocacy Coordinator, Erica Lue, with any questions or to get some advocacy tips for your local or state PTA, at