/ Modified jan 24, 2024 5:59 p.m.

Grijalva and teachers gather in opposition to Republican’s potential education cuts

House Republicans have proposed a budget that would cut federal education spending by 28%.

Grijalva 1 Congressman Raúl Grijalva hosts a roundtable with Tucson educators alongside Tucson Unified School District leadership Natalie Luna Rose (left), Board President, and Kamren Taravati (right), TUSD's Director of Magnet Programs.
Hannah Cree

Congressman Raúl Grijalva hosted a roundtable discussion with Tucson educators on Wednesday in response to possible education cuts in Congress.

The Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations bill put forward by the Republican majority proposes cutting education spending by 28%, or $64 billion.

“This is possibly one of the biggest threats to public schools, in my history, that I have seen,” Grijalva said.

That includes an 80% cut to Title I funding and a complete elimination of Title III. Although most education funding comes from states, Title I provides extra federal money to schools where a high percentage of students come from low-income families. Title III supplements dual-language learning.

Victoria Barajas, Principal of Van Buskirk Elementary in TUSD, called Title I money a “vital lifeline” because it helps fill staffing gaps where her district falls short.

“My counselor is only part-time, funded through the district. I need a full-time counselor. So I fund her part-time through Title 1,” Barajas said.

Grijalva said Arizona could lose 2,400 teachers if this budget was to pass as is.

As schools continue to grapple with learning loss and behavioral issues brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, teachers like Karen Seabolt of Gridley Middle School told Grijalva that more, not less, investment is needed.

“It breaks my heart to see young teachers come in and the next school year we gather back at school and they’re gone. We see it all the time. It is a difficult place to work,” she said.

Seabolt said teachers leave when they don’t feel supported, but that federal funding can help pay for teacher development programs, aides, and substitutes that improve teacher retention.

“With training, teachers can figure it out, and they can become experts,” she said.

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