WASHINGTON (AP) — Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is urging Congress to avoid across-the-board cuts that he says would harm the Education Department's ability to provide for the neediest students in the next school year.

Duncan tells a Senate appropriations panel that steep cuts "would jeopardize our nation's ability to develop and support an educated, skilled workforce that can compete in the global economy."

He warns the cuts would undermine the department's ability to serve disadvantaged students in high-poverty schools and improve schools with high dropout rates. Duncan also says it would undermine programs for students with disabilities and special needs and adversely impact programs providing financial aid to college students.