Though it seems futile at this point, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos went on the offensive versus the media and some in Congress who have been trying to make hay politically over her department’s proposal to cut funding for the Special Olympics from the 2020 federal budget.
It is unacceptable, shameful and counterproductive that the media and some members of Congress have spun up falsehoods and fully misrepresented the facts. Let me correct the record for you:https://t.co/cGhrDY2JEt
— Betsy DeVos (@BetsyDeVosED) March 27, 2019
In a release on Thursday, DeVos said, “Make no mistake: we are focused every day on raising expectations and improving outcomes for infants and toddlers, children and youth with disabilities, and are committed to confronting and addressing anything that stands in the way of their success.
“The President’s budget reflects that commitment. It supports our nation’s 7 million students with disabilities through a $13.2 billion request for IDEA funding, the same funding level appropriated by Congress. All of that money goes directly to states to ensure students with disabilities have the resources and supports they need. The budget also requests an additional $225.6 million for competitively awarded grants to support teacher preparation, research and technical assistance to support students with disabilities.”
Compared with the $13.2 billion earmarked for students with disabilities, the proposed Special Olympics cut is minuscule. This year, the Special Olympics received $17.6 million in grants from the Education Department, a small part of the overall funding the organization collects, the bulk of which comes through private donations.
“The Special Olympics is not a federal program,” Devos pointed out. “It’s a private organization. I love its work, and I have personally supported its mission. Because of its important work, it is able to raise more than $100 million every year. There are dozens of worthy nonprofits that support students and adults with disabilities that don’t get a dime of federal grant money. But given our current budget realities, the federal government cannot fund every worthy program, particularly ones that enjoy robust support from private donations.”
Democrats are expected to block this budget cut in the House and have already been pointing fingers at the proposal as evidence of what Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez calls a Republican “Anti-Everybody agenda.”
I see Betsy DeVos and the GOP are doubling down on their Anti-Everybody agenda by working to cut Fed funding for *the Special Olympics.*
The good news? You elected a House Dem majority, so we can halt it.
Now: who are your favorite disability advocates to follow? Share below ⬇️ https://t.co/8LSl5RSed7
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) March 28, 2019
Even with the clear and obvious cost-cutting rationale, it’s an uphill battle for removing Special Olympics from the budget, due to the political optics.
Republican Senator Roy Blunt from Missouri is the chair of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee. He unequivocally declared that the proposed cut would not be approved. “I’m a longtime supporter of the Special Olympics and proud that Missouri is home to the largest Special Olympics training facility in the world,” he said in a statement. “I was just at the World Games and saw, as I have many times before, what a huge impact the organization has on athletes, their families, and their communities. Our Department of Education appropriations bill will not cut funding for the program.”
It’s reported that last week Blunt attended the 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games that were held in Abu Dhabi.
DeVos will present her budget to Blunt’s subcommittee today.
NBC, in a supposed “news” report about the proposed cut referenced the Twitter hashtag #UNBELIEVABLE in connection with the graphic indicating DeVos is “under fire” for her proposal.
CNN was another of the progressive media eagerly giving voice to Democrats and promoting their “outrage” as shown in this tweet …
“It’s cruel, it’s misguided and it’s outrageous,” says @RepJoeKennedy, whose great aunt founded the Special Olympics, as Education Sec. Betsy DeVos defended her proposed cuts to the organization. https://t.co/5gsWt9p9gN pic.twitter.com/hhTa7d6STR
— CNN (@CNN) March 28, 2019