We stand up for a Massachusetts where everyone gets a fair shot, does and pays their fair share, and plays by the same rules.
Yesterday, Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD) held a rally to highlight the devastating impact the shutdown is having to people, especially the poor. Among the many troubling and outrageous pieces of fallout from the GOP shutdown — from the 20,000 people who rent assistance is drying up to a WWII veteran who was on Normandy beach and talked about losing heating assistance — are the impacts on young children.
First, the sequester’s deep cuts hit programs across the country, and it became clear that one of the biggest casualties of that terrible piece of lawmaking was Head Start, a program which provides early education to disadvantaged kids. Here in Massachusetts, 2,015 fewer children will be served by Head Start from the first round of sequester cuts (57,000 nationally). And because sequestration ticks up, those cuts are set to get worse.
The shutdown is like an extra sucker punch added on. One Head Start center in Western Mass. was scheduled to get their funding on Oct. 1, which was delayed by the shutdown. They are currently open, using other funding for now, but probably will need to close as soon as next week. A private donor recently gave $10 million to Head Start nationally to try and keep centers open through the end of October, but obviously private donations are just a temporary band-aid (though an incredibly generous gesture). Five more centers in Massachusetts are set to get funding renewed on Nov. 1.
Over the course of the summer, Massachusetts Fair Share collected more than 5,000 signatures from Bay State residents calling for an end to the education cuts from Congress — both those in the sequester and those in the Ryan budget (which contained a 43% cut in education spending). Many of the political races being waged across the state have education front and center.
One thing that became clear as we knocked on doors across the state was that people are worried about these cuts, not just parents. Even as it’s clear that we need to be getting better at educating our kids, we’re seeing cuts and shutdowns and more bad news.
What will America look like if we don’t educate our children? What kind of economic recovery can we expect if we fail to teach children the skills and knowledge they will need to compete for jobs?
As an organizer, I’m aware of how critical this moment is. We can make it clear to people that public programs aren’t the butt of jokes: It’s the source of the infrastructure that empowers growth and research investments that spur innovation … and it’s how we educate the next generation.