Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is proposing to completely eliminate all federal funding for the Special Olympics.
On Wednesday, DeVos faced intense backlash on Twitter from politicians (including fellow Republicans), athletes and celebrities.
DeVos’ plan is to stop the funding for the Special Olympics as a part of $7 billion in budget cuts next year. The Special Olympics received $17.6 million from the U.S. Education Department this year. That is about 10 percent of overall revenue.
DeVos said Wednesday that funding the Special Olympics is no longer affordable for the federal government.
Democrats grabbed onto this and grilled DeVos on Tuesday at a budget hearing. They asked her how she could say the Special Olympics can’t be funded anymore while also calling for a $60 million increase in charter school funding, one of DeVos’ top issues.
“Once again, I still can’t understand why you would go after disabled children in your budget. You’ve zeroed that out. It’s appalling,” Democrat Representative Barbara Lee said at Tuesday’s hearing.
Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, said that when he was on the budget committee, “these types of programs were off limits — for good reason.”
While pushing for eliminating fundraising for the Special Olympics and increasing support for charter schools, DeVos’ proposal calls for $13.2 billion in federal grants awarded to states for special education – the exact same amount as last year.
This proposal is not a far cry from DeVos’ previously voiced stances on a number of things, from reducing protections for sexual assault victims on campuses to considering racial diversity a low priority in schools.
During the summer of 2018, the administration rescinded federal guidance put in place by the Obama administration to promote racial diversity in higher education and end the growing racial isolation in K-12 classrooms.
Other aspects of the coming year’s budget are a reflection of DeVos’ announcement to cut funding for the Special Olympics. This administration plans to spend more than $1 billion on private school vouchers and other school choice plans.
The proposal also eliminates programs that fund after-school activities for needy children, another that covers teacher training and a grant program for college students with “exceptional financial need.”