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Pop Quiz: Are You Shutdown?

I wish I could talk about something other than the government shutdown in the United States, but I’m just too darn cranky to focus on much else.

And no, we’re not getting into a political debate here. Let’s talk about specific effects on education and science.

What does the federal government shutdown mean for the education system? Sorry kids, but you DO still have to go to school. The short term effects are minimal, though in the longer term, federal funding to help school districts won’t come through if the people aren’t at work to make the system happen (or the budget passed, for that matter). An article by the Huffington Post outlines the more serious effects that the furlough will have on Headstart pre-school programs around the nation.

As for science and science education, well, again, the short term effects aren’t so bad. Unless, of course, you are a scientist working for a federal agency such as NASA. In that case, you are barred from working, and in the fast-paced world of science, that’s not a good thing. And the ripples are felt throughout the scientific community as researcher from the CDC, NIH, NOAA, and others are out of work. The progress of science itself slows down. Plus, NASA education and outreach programs, recently threatened by a proposal to consolidate all science educations under a few agencies, got a continuing resolution to stay open, but that’s only in effect if NASA itself is in business.

How does this affect my work? Well we have our grant money already, but any future distributions that pay our salaries at the citizen science project where I work won’t come in, and we’ll be barred (yet again) from applying for new funding if the government doesn’t get back to work. Plus, many of our collaborators who are at federal institutions literally aren’t allowed to work with us. What does the future hold? I have no idea, but all we can do is keep working where we can.

How is the government shutdown affecting you, if at all? If you’re not in the US, how absolutely absurd does this whole situation seem to you anyway? Okay you can have a political debate if you want, just keep it clean. 

The Pop Quiz is a question posed to you, the Scholars of Doubt. Look for it to appear Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 3pm ET.

Features Image by Eric on Flickr.

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Nicole

Nicole

Nicole is an assistant professor of physics and astronomy at a small liberal arts college. Her home on the internet can be found at One Astronomer's Noise.

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