(CNN) - Forced spending cuts that take effect today will slice $2.5 billion from the Department of Education's nearly $70 billion budget, CNN's René Marsh reports. At the college level, about 70,000 students could lose work study and grant money. The biggest cuts wouldn't take effect until the 2013-14 school year, and Pell grants will be spared.
At the preschool, elementary and secondary levels, the Department of Education expects a $725 million cut to Title I grants, which Education Secretary Arne Duncan estimates will impact 1.2 million disadvantaged students, and put 10,000 teacher and support staff jobs at risk. States and districts might have to cover the cost of 7,200 teachers, aides and staffers as $600 million is cut from the special education, too. Some 70,000 Head Start students might no longer be able to attend classes.
By Jim Acosta, CNN
Washington (CNN) – Education Secretary Arne Duncan says a West Virginia school district is laying off teachers due to deep spending cuts across the federal government set to take effect on Friday. But officials from that region say it's not true.
Duncan told reporters at the White House on Wednesday that the Kanawha County school system was already handing out pink slips in anticipation of the automatic cuts that, among other things, will impact the amount of federal money states get through September.
"Yes, there's a district where it's happened. But, again, it's just because they have an earlier union notification than most – Kanawha County, West Virginia," Duncan said at the latest White House briefing where Cabinet officers detailed the impact of cuts under the so-called congressional sequester to their agency programs.
"Whether it's all sequester-related, I don't know, but these are teachers who are getting pink slips now," he added.
But Diane Young, the coordinator of the Head Start program for Kanawha County Public Schools, cautioned that Duncan's explanation does not get an "A" for accuracy.
Young blamed Head Start. She said the federal program for needy children has yet to notify the school system whether it will have Head Start money in the fall.
"The Board of Education cannot wait that long for the funds to come through," Young said.
By John D. Sutter, CNN
(CNN) - There's a hilarious episode of the sketch comedy show "Portlandia" where two hipster parents give their preschool age kid a presentation about his future.
The kid, Grover, half-watches as mom and dad pull up two stock market-style charts: One shows his fortunes going up and up if he attends Shooting Star preschool; the other shows what happens if he fails to get in: a plunge into violence, shoplifting and poverty.
"The last thing I want is you out there, you know, shooting squirrels and birds for dinner," says the mom. "If we don't get you into that Shooting Star private preschool, you're gonna end up at a public school with a bunch of riffraff."
She adds: "We're gonna get you into preschool. We're gonna get you into college. We're going to get you some money. And we're gonna get you whatever you want!"
The skit is great because it's based in truth.
Yes, elite preschool admissions are perfectly absurd, but the benefits of preschool are seriously significant. Researchers in North Carolina and Michigan have spent decades following kids who attend preschool and comparing them with control groups of kids who didn't. While preschool, of course, does not single-handedly determine whether a kid will be successful and happy or end up shoplifting with the riffraff, on the whole the studies suggest the early schooling can reroute lives for the better.
The "Portlandia" charts are kind of real.