WASHINGTON — US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan addressed an empty classroom of what would have been shocked students on Wednesday afternoon to announce that, “in light of the sequester and bipartisan calls for decreased spending, public schools across the nation will be forced to eliminate students from the budget.”
“The truth is, we need to cut spending.” Duncan lectured, “We looked at the numbers, and the single most expensive cost schools face is, in fact, students.” Under the new plan, 7.8% of public school students will be ‘honorably expelled’ from their respective school systems – about 3.5 million students total.
Prior to the decision to save by eliminating pupils, the nation’s school systems were preparing to deal with heavy sequester cuts that would hit three major areas: Title I funding for underprivileged and poor youth, special education programs nationwide (which would have seen their funding cut nearly in half), and Head Start early childhood education programs. This would have come with tens of thousands of teacher layoffs, and would invariably have targeted disabled children, minorities and lower class students while favoring wealthier districts.
“The genius of the Infinite Recess Plan, as we are calling it, is the fairness with which it distributes the cuts,” Duncan explained. “The millions of students who will see their educations abruptly ended will be chosen at random, coming from all classes, grade levels, demographics and regions of the country.”
Parents’ organizations and advocacy groups have already begun protesting the decision, and the fight promises to be a long one. School officials have tried to compromise with opponents at the state level, with some even offering to allow the eliminated students to still take part in standardized tests.
“The decision was not an easy one,” said Duncan. “We looked at all the options, and there’s just nowhere else to cut costs. Schools are already using antiquated technology, sharing damaged and outdated textbooks, holding classes in trailers, and depending on one school nurse to serve entire districts. The only thing left to get rid of is the kids themselves. Well, there’s also high school football, but parents would never accept that.”
Paul Ryan, a chief architect of the new education budget plan, has suggested that the kids who would have been students are all welcome to join the military. “Don’t worry,” he said, “there will always be plenty of funding there.”