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Duncan warns of shutdown impact on schools

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Joining a chorus of Obama Cabinet members condemning the funding stalemate between Congress and the White House, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on Monday warned that the looming government shutdown would hurt American students.

“There’s just simply no upside,” Mr. Duncan told an audience at the National Press Club. “The effects might not be felt immediately, but whether it’s a shutdown, whether it’s the sequester, none of these things are good for children, for schools, for families, for communities.”

“We need stability, we need investment, we need a functioning federal government, and the dysfunction here right now is frankly pretty staggering,” President Obama’s top education adviser said.

The impact of the shutdown could include thousands of fewer children receiving access to Head Start programs and less money for lower-income students, students with special needs, students with military parents, and students in federal work-study programs.

When asked what steps he could take to lessen the effects of the shutdown on education, Mr. Duncan said “There’s literally nothing I can do to mitigate those effects.”

“Right now, in the immediate fear of a shutdown, we’ll try and do everything we can to help college students with grants and other things and make sure that money keeps flowing,” he said.

Mr. Duncan urged Congress to “get its act together” and think of the impact that inaction will have on so many individuals throughout the nation. “Democracy works when folks get together and compromise. That’s what we need.”

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