Does the Tea Party Care About Special Education?

Yesterday, just before President Obama’s State of the Union address, Republican freshman Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) unveiled his own plan to cut $500 billion from the federal budget in a single year.  The plan is (depending on your point of view) sweeping or draconian, as it calls for the elimination of 

  • the Department of Energy
  • the National Endowment for the Arts
  • the National Endowment for the Humanities

Paul’s plan would also, as the January 25th Los Angeles Times points out, all but eliminate the Department of Education.

Meaning, there goes special education. A free and appropriate public education is only guaranteed to children with disabilities under the Individuals with Disabilities Act, which is under the US Department of Education. Without IDEA—without the Department of Education’s legislation about special education—-my son and thousands of children with disabilities (including Tea Party leader Sarah Palin’s own young son Trig, who has Down Syndrome) will be denied an education and therefore, a future that involves something beside living in an institution.

Paul’s plan does not specifically mention IDEA or special education, but it would hurt children and individuals with disabilities on many fronts, as the senator also calls for serious reductions in funding for the Department of Health and Human Services, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration. He does not propose to touch Social Security between now and the end of the fiscal year.

As Talking Points Memo notes, ‘a plan like this was the essence of [Paul's], and other tea party-backed campaigns in 2010.’ The fact that Sen. Paul would propose such a defunding and de facto elimination of Department of Education programs says that, according to him, children with disabilities have no right to an education that is appropriate to needs. It means turning back the clock to, indeed, an ‘earlier, simpler’ time in this country’s history when literally nothing—nothing at all—was done to educate children with disabilities.

I guess we should see reports about Sarah Palin cutting funding for special education by 62% during her tenure as a (half-term) governor of Alaska as a sign of what’s to come. UPDATE:  The Washington Monthly notes that the report that Palin had cut special education by 62% was erroneous, due to a change in how funding for the Alaska Challenge Youth Academy was broken out into its own budget category. More about Palin and disability issues here

Previous Care2 posts

The 2011 State of Education? No Surprises Here

How Not to Invest in the Future: Republicans Propose Disastrous Cuts to Education

Photo by Gage Skidmore [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons.


Steve D.
Past Member 1 years ago

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Rose N.
Past Member 6 years ago

Thank you for posting.

Wanda Logan
Wanda Logan6 years ago

I see no possible reconciling the differences between the two ideologies. I suggest we divide the US into 2 regions.....Conservative-tea Party on one side and Liberal/Solialists on the other....then let's just see who comes out on top. At least we won't have to be constantly bombarded with ideologies that are so foreign to our own way of thinking and we can live in peace!

Abrienda S.
Abrienda S.6 years ago

Rand Paul was a Libertarian before he became a Republican in order to be included in debates for the presidential election. This isn't surprising to me at all since that's the party of WAY less government. People need to wake up to what the Tea Party really is.

Martha Eberle
Martha Eberle6 years ago

It's nothing new. The Republican Party does not care about people. PERIOD.

All their "cuts" have to do with services to people. They've never liked anything that benefited the people, like S.S., Medicare, Medicaid, child labor laws, safety laws in the workplace, and on and on. If ONE PENNY is taken away from a business, they object, even though unions have increased productivity along with better wages.

What do they think the business of government is for?! IT IS TO SERVE THE PEOPLE OF THE COUNTRY OF THAT GOVERNMENT. Else we are all slaves to the owners of business. One part socialism and one part capitalism, is what works for the benefit and betterment of all.

Nancy Dodson
Nancy Dodson6 years ago

The illustrious Rand Paul also favors any restaurant owner be entitled to not serve minorities if they so choose. How's that for a progressive United States of America? It's too bad we don't have time travel so they could all go back in time to where they will be so happy!! In the meantime, all of us who want to see our country progress forward and all of our citizens have equal opportunity will forge ahead.

They can have their slaves, no environmental concerns, won't have to worry about global warming, no evolution, no health care, and they can throw their tea bags in the river wherever they want to. They certainly have no place in a modern, vibrant, progressive world!! Have a nice trip!!

Mo Va
Mo Va6 years ago

Rand Paul, what kind of your thinking skill do you have? If you want to cut Department of Education and Special Education, What is your best alternate ? You fail to mention about your best alternate while you gave your speech.

Rosalind R.
Rosalind R6 years ago

Just put yourself in the situation of having a special needs child & then decide what you would want for them.

Alexandra O.
Alex O6 years ago

As usual, the tp's have an agenda and at the top of the list, "set the country back at least 50 yrs". They are all about themselves and padding their pockets. Typical Republicans.

Alexandra O.
Alex O6 years ago

I've come to notice that these tea party persons have an agenda and at the top of the list is "set back our country by 50 years". Who told them this was a great idea and would even work?