The 5,000 signatures collected by Massachusetts Fair Share in support of funding for pre-kindergarten education and delivered to U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren illustrate the extent of support for these programs, but Senator Warren, of course, is not the problem. She could be part of the solution but is one of many facing an almost suicidal destructiveness in Washington that threaten efforts to help those in our nation who need and deserve it.
Federal budget cuts, most triggered automatically by the mind-numbingly foolish sequester, will cause an estimated 2,000 Massachusetts pre-schoolers, including 19 from Berkshire County, to lose access to education next month. (Eagle, August 22). Berkshire County Head Start has seven locations in Berkshire County set up to prepare children for school, and while evidence grows that early childhood education is absolutely critical to educational success in the long run, federal funding for these important programs is being butchered. Meanwhile, agri-business continues to get its lavish federal subsidies to go on top of its profits.
On The Eagle’s August 20 opinion page, George F. Will of the Washington Post Writers Group wrote about the damage the sequester is doing to scientific research ("At NIH, see sequester at its worst"). Shortsighted and often spiteful budget cuts are hurting America in the very areas that it can least afford to be hurt.
Berkshire County Head Start is adjusting to these grim economic realities in ways both painful (the closing of a classroom in North Adams, reductions in field trips) and selfless (administrative staff will take 10 furlough days). There will be more cuts to come, all of them unnecessary. The world’s richest nation should not be depriving its own children of education.