03/04/2013 05:09 pm ET Updated May 04, 2013

What the Sequester Will Do to California Summers

For California schools, the consequences of the sequester mean broad spending cuts to public school systems that will hit low-income children the hardest. The cuts themselves are the same across the board, five percent of federal funding, and will dramatically reduce the amount available to government agencies including education. Because the sequester will cut Title 1 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, federal money specifically set aside for local school districts to meet the needs of low-income students, the automatic cuts would deal a devastating blow to school districts across the state that are just beginning to recover from the recession.

Our country's most vulnerable students will suffer and this will have repercussions for years to come as superintendents will be forced to choose between filling in budget gaps over fundamentals like high-quality summer learning programs, which serve to remove barriers to learning.

In recent years, a growing number of school districts in California have recognized how critical it is to provide summer learning programs for their students in order to maintain gains made during the school year and avoid devastating learning losses over the summer break when the traditional school year ends. Many have utilized Title 1 funding for this purpose, with superintendents all over California making a commitment to invest in summer learning. This includes superintendents from Oakland, San Francisco, Lynwood and Fresno Unified School Districts, some of the State's, and the nation's, largest and most challenging school districts. Cuts to Title 1 funding could seriously jeopardize their progress and set children back.

Because cuts for California school districts will become real on July 1st of this year, the start of the state's new fiscal year, there's still time to avoid sequestration if the president and Congress take action. This means time to protect vital federal funding streams that go towards keeping alive more than 4,000 publicly-funded California after school and summer programs. We hope the president and Congress find a way to work together before July 1st for the sake of our children.