By Victor O
A majority of people of color attend public schools; therefore, anything that affects these schools has far reaching effects on them. Democrats recently took to Howard University to sensitize their audience about how the GOP’s 2011 spending limits tagged sequestration is deeply causing havoc to black and Hispanic students and their families, while also limiting opportunities meant for public school students.
The policy sailed through the House of Representatives, which was then controlled by Republicans. It was a move aimed at cutting down the federal budget deficit; however, when Congress failed to agree on the federal budget, as was the case in 2013, spending cuts were greatly effected. Democrats lamented that the cuts unfairly trim the spending on certain crucial programs.
“There are no Democrats who support sequestration,” Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland said. “Sequestration is a complicated word that starts with ‘S’ which stands for stupid. It is an irrational policy.”
Sequestration trimmed spending on both defense and non-defense budget items, cutting it by around $900 billion over a span of 10 budget years. In 2014 and 2015 financial years, sequestration was avoided, but it might just come back this year if Congress doesn’t act.
Democrats have been on the forefront of opposing sequestration, and have carried out a number of analyses to establish the effect of the policy on minority communities. On October 20, the group held a roundtable in Founder’s Library, where they discussed sequestration and its ramifications, particularly on education.
“Sequestration and budget cuts are hurting students, they’re hurting your families back at home, they’re hurting your communities back at home and we must do something about it,” said Butterfield of North Carolina, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.
According to Pell Institute, African Americans and Hispanics are the biggest beneficiaries of its grants, with 50% of blacks and 40% of Hispanics relying on Pell grants for their studies. The grants have been quite beneficial to students enrolled in Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
“What has happened as the Pell grant has gone down is that our students are increasingly dependent upon loans,” Eleanor Holmes Norton of the District of Columbia. “To take a loan for part of what it takes to go to college is manageable, but borrowing more than $10,000 is detrimental to students, to their future and to the future of the country.”
Sequestration has been cited as a policy that’s robbing the current generation of their future by increasing overreliance on loans, which will haunt them during their employment and affect their ability to prepare well for retirement. The fact that employment rate is also lower among blacks and Hispanics means that overreliance on loans will ultimately trim the middle-class of African Americans and Hispanics.