Shutdown Imperils American Students

Dianda Giles, Staff Writer

The longest federal closure in history persisted until a 3-week stop-gap measure was introduced on January 28.

But the truce is only temporary, so the future of government-funded public school programs remains uncertain.

In a memo from the US Department of Education, “A protracted delay in Department obligations and payments beyond 1 week would severely curtail the cash flow to school districts, colleges and universities, and vocational rehabilitation agencies that depend on the Department’s funds to support their services.”

Given that the recent shutdown extended to over 3 times longer than “1 week”,  crucial programs like federal student loans are at even greater risk. During this time of year students are applying to colleges and federal aid at the same time. Unfortunately, according to the National Education Association, 90% of IRS employees were furloughed and the IRS website was unavailable since the December. This means families couldn’t access their tax returns, which are necessary for financial aid applications.

“It’s a scary reality to think about,” said senior Grace Younger. “I just hope that the shutdown will not hurt funding programs –students shouldn’t have to worry about how their education is getting paid for.”

It is estimated that if the government shutdown continued into March, the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs that provide free and reduced-price meals for 30 million and 14.5 million children, respectively, would have also run out of funding.

Junior CJ Rago is skeptical that the shutdown and lack of funding will affect Campolindo students.”I think that Campo has enough money to keep our food program going during a shutdown. My guess is that most Campo students can afford to pay for lunch food though,” he said.  Yet, the food program is federally funded, so the relative wealth of a school’s community does not determine the level of access students in need have to these resources.

Living in a relative fluent community may lead some to falsely conclude that various school services are not at risk. Sophomore Emerson Hogan said, “We probably don’t realize that lots of Campo students can be affected by [the shutdown], or have parents who could not work because they are employed by the government.”

While the recent reopening of the the federal government has provided a temporary respite, President Trump has indicated that he is not opposed to additional closures in the future. The National Education Association has since urged Congress to find a resolution before more communities and schools are impacted.

What happens if the government cannot reach a compromise in the next 21 days is uncertain.  What is certain is that the unwillingness of either side to soften their stance has already caused harm to American students.