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Education secretary Betsy DeVos would like to do America’s children a favor: gut the beloved Special Olympics program, and invest a couple million in charter schools.
“We are not doing our children any favors when we borrow from their future in order to invest in systems and policies that are not yielding better results,” DeVos said in prepared remarks to Congress discussing the Department of Education’s budget proposal, filed by President Trump earlier this year.
The proposal would eliminate the nearly $18 million previously allocated for the Special Olympics, and allocate an additional $60 million to charter school funding, according to the Detroit Free Press. Overall, her department would lose 10 percent of its budget if Trump’s proposal were taken up by Congress. DeVos has long been a proponent of school choice and charter schools.
The Special Olympics benefits both adults and children with development and physical disabilities, and held its first quadrennial games in 1968. DeVos said it would be better supported by philanthropists. Her agency suggested similar cuts last year, and DeVos donated part of her salary to the nonprofit Special Olympics.
That wasn’t the only program beneficial to those with disabilities that Trump trimmed. He suggested deep cuts to Medicaid, the health care program that benefits the poor and those with disabilities, and proposed stripping $51 million from initiatives meant to address autism and other developmental disabilities.
Athletes and advocates from the Special Olympics pleaded with Congress to maintain their funding last month, and help those with disabilities by offering free health programs. The organization has many private-sector partners, but said in a press release last month that federal dollars are critical to leveraging “additional funds from private individuals and organizations.”
The 2018 Special Olympics USA Games held in Seattle last July featured more than 4,000 athletes competing in 14 different sports, and hundreds of U.S. athletes competed in the just-wrapped international Special Olympics games in Abu Dhabi last week.
Cover: Education Secretary Betsy DeVos speaks during a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on budget on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 26, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)