CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Leaders of a West Virginia teachers union say public education already is reeling from funding problems, and they're worried about further reductions as Republicans and the White House struggle to avert automatic tax hikes and spending cuts set to start with the new year.
If nothing is done in Washington, D.C., federal grant programs for education would be among the areas subject to automatic spending cuts, and the West Virginia Education Association says it would be "devastating" for students.
The union said grants at risk in West Virginia include nearly $7.9 million for low-income public schools, $6 million for special education and $4.8 million for the Head Start program, which supports disadvantaged children from birth to age 5 and their families.
WVEA President Dale Lee is a special-education math teacher at Princeton High School. He said Tuesday it's not right to ask children in already crowded classrooms to shoulder any more cuts.
"Education cuts are ones that never heal," Lee said. "This to me looks like a deal that amounts to robbing Peter to pay Paul, and that's simply not an option, especially when Peter is a 5-year-old who's just exploring the joys of reading and wants a doctor to visit when he's sick."