Betsy DeVos Under Fire for Proposed Special Olympics, Special Ed Cuts

How low can Education Secretary Betsy DeVos go?

She’s already shown her disdain for survivors of sexual assault and for students waiting for loan relief.

Now, in her 2020 education budget proposal, she has recommended cutting all federal funding for the Special Olympics, a program that allows athletes with disabilities to train and compete year-round. DeVos also proposed major funding cuts for students with special needs. A few days later, DeVos did reverse course on the Special Olympics funding — only after President Donald Trump said he had “overridden” the proposed cuts.

Taking federal funding away from the Special Olympics would be a $17.6 million cut. This is a small portion of the overall education budget, but it is a perfect example of the mean-spirited approach of DeVos toward public education and kids with disabilities.

The education secretary spoke in the House of Representatives on March 26, her first appearance since Democrats gained control in the 2018 midterms. Her education budget proposals before the House Appropriations Committee drew some strong reactions.

Referring to the Special Olympics, Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wisconsin, asked DeVos, “Do you know how many kids are going to be affected by that cut?”

“Let me just say again, we had to make some difficult decisions with this budget,” she answered. “I don’t know the number of kids.”

At which point, Pocan jumped in: “It’s 272,000 kids.”

The reality is that the Special Olympics, founded by Eunice Shriver in 1968, receives most of its money from philanthropic donations. A 2018 audit revealed that the Special Olympics and its affiliates took in nearly $150 million in “revenues, gains, and other support.” Only about 10 percent of this came from the federal government.

But that is hardly the point. DeVos called her decision “difficult.” Perhaps “cruel” is a better word.

This is the third attempt to cut the Special Olympics from the education budget, but this time social media has exploded. 

And for comparison, the Special Olympics funding equates to about five of Trump’s trips to Mar-a-Lago. Also, DeVos’s family owns 10 yachts, one of which is worth $40 million.

But it’s not just the Special Olympics. In total, the Trump administration wants to cut around $8.5 billion, close to 12 percent, of the current education budget.

The Detroit Free Press reports that DeVos’s plan “calls for eliminating billions in grants to improve student achievement by reducing class sizes and funding professional development for teachers as well as cutting funds dedicated to increasing the use of technology in schools and improving school conditions.”

The budget proposal also takes funding away from programs for deaf and blind students and cuts special-education grants to states by 26 percent. This horrible budget proposal is about causing harm to special-needs students across the board.

“I still can’t understand why you would go after disabled children in your budget,” Lee said. “It’s appalling.”

“How can you support this budget? asked Rosa DeLauro, D-Connecticut, chairwoman of the subcommittee. “I mean that genuinely.”

At the same time, DeVos proposed adding $60 million to funding for charter schools, her pet project, as well as creating a huge tax credit for companies and individuals who donate to scholarship funds for private schools. 

DeVos’s budget proposal for the education department is just that — a proposal, which will undoubtedly not make it through Congress.

But it does give us a clear idea of this administration’s priorities, and it is not pretty.

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Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore


Anna R
Anna Rabout a month ago


Shae Lee
Shae Lee1 months ago

Thank you for sharing!

Frances G
Carla G1 months ago

Thank you

Peggy B
Peggy B1 months ago

Luckily Trump stopped the cut to the Special Olympics. Too close to re-election to upset people.

Ciaron Drain
Ciaron Drain1 months ago

It does appear there are things that even in a kakistocracy like the current administration may be going too far. It also reminds people how utterly unfit Besey De Vos is for the role she is in, or indeed any role.

Leo C
Leo C1 months ago

Thank you for sharing!

Leanne K
Leanne K1 months ago

This woman is an idiot. Can she not see that she is being deliberately used to make deliberately unpopular decisions. Everyone will hate this woman in this role. She is the fall guy. And fall she will. They are using her to undermine feminism and women in positions of power

Sherri S
Sherri S1 months ago

What a heartless B!

Debbi W
Debbi W1 months ago

Betsy DeVos is an another cabinet member with a paper education but who graduated rather stupid. She couldn't even pass the test of questions in her hearing, but trump's republicans didn't care. Her agenda is to close public schools and cater to private schools, not to protect students who aren't wealthy. She a selfish bitch with no compassion. trump only folded because of the public outcry, including most members of his own party. I guess there is a limit to their pettiness. At least the Special Olympics will still get their funding.

Edward Vaughn
Edward Vaughn1 months ago

Betsy DeVos is merely one more religious nut case who has no business being in government. Next you'll have Muslims demanding prayer rooms, rugs and special times to pray everywhere. Keep religion out of politics.