Though Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ proposal to cut funding for the Special Olympics has been under fire, the Department’s other proposed budget cuts for 2020 may have as much or more impact on disability services. Donald Trump stated that he was “overriding” the proposed cut by the Department under Betsy DeVos, but it’s not likely that the Special Olympics funding cut would have been approved by Congress, anyway.
DeVos and the Department of Education are proposing to cut a number of other programs, however, that benefit not only disabled children, but all children, and these proposed cuts have largely been ignored in light of the Special Olympics controversy.
Here are some areas where the Department of Education’s 2020 budget proposal could negatively impact disabled students:
Special Education Services: Currently, 14 percent of students receive special education services, a result of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Under this law, disabled students are guaranteed key civil rights, as well as an appropriate, free public education. After her confirmation as Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos began an effort to dismantle the protections for those with disabilities. The Department of Education in 2017 withdrew 72 guidance documents regarding students with disabilities.
“School Choice:” The Department of Education, in support of one of Betsy DeVos’ favorite causes, proposes to increase funding to charter schools by $60 million in the coming year, adding up to $500 million. DeVos has touted the opportunities afforded students who attend charter schools. Disabled students, however, are less likely than other students to be given spots in charter schools.
Supported Employment: Betsy DeVos’ proposed budget would cut funding to supported employment by $22.5 million. These services help connect disabled adults and students with jobs, allowing them to gain independence. Other funding to be reduced includes support for independent living services, funding to Gallaudet University for deaf students, and Arts in Education programs for low-income and disabled students.
s.e. smith, a contributor to Vox.com, writes, “The proposed Special Olympics cuts will likely never come to pass — and may in fact be calculated to spark outrage so Republicans can look magnanimous when they decline to put it in the final budget, giving a “win” where one really isn’t deserved.” But, says smith of the other proposed cuts by Betsy DeVos and the Department of Education, “…Plenty of others will, and failing to pay attention to them could prove dangerous.”
Betsy DeVos defends plan to cut funding for the Special Olympics
Daily Mail [2019-03-27]
DeVos on defense for cutting Special Olympics funding | Fox News [2019-03-28]