Education Secretary Betsy DeVos Defends Trump Administration’s Elimination of Special Olympics Funding

Betsy DeVos

Though that's a fraction of their $7 million budget, it accounts for one-third of the funding needed for the organization's schools program.

As this is the first time that DeVos is testifying before a Democrat-controlled House, she faced more scrutiny and questioning than she previously has. "I mean that genuinely".

The Special Olympics' 2017 annual report, the most recent available on its website, says the group received $148 million in revenue that year, including $15.5 million from federal grants. Mark Pocan: "That's all-OK, I'll answer it for you. It's appalling", Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., said. She says a cut in funding would have a negative impact.

DeVos told the panel that her department "had to make some hard decisions", adding that the Special Olympics is best supported by philanthropy.

"This reduction is similar to last year's request, and the year before that, as well". Education Secretary Betsy DeVos: "I don't know the number of kids". These cuts include eliminating the entire $18 million budget for the Special Olympics, a universally liked and supported program.

"It is just unconscionable", Pocan said.

While the proposal would slash money for various education programs, including a student loan forgiveness program for public employees that DeVos' team reportedly described as duplicative and ineffective, it seeks to increase funding for school choice tax credits for students K-12. She refers to the initiative as "education freedom".

This year, with Democrats controlling the House, Trump's budget faces even grimmer prospects.

The organisation is largely funded by corporate and private donations.

Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) grilled DeVos about her plan to eliminate federal funding for Special Olympics.

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"Those are things that touch so many lives of individuals with intellectual disabilities in Kansas", said senior vice president of communications at Special Olympics Kansas, Heather Waters.

Wolking, from the Trump campaign, and DeVos noted that Special Olympics is not a government program and that it benefits from private support.

It's a program she said has been effective in improving school climates through sports, youth leadership and school activities. In making the decision, DeVos said discipline decisions should be left to teachers and schools.

"Are you saying that the problem really is that black children are just more of a discipline problem?"

"No child should be treated or disciplined differently based on his or her race or color", DeVos said.

"Do you think it's all right for a school to discriminate based on someone's sexual orientation or gender identity?"

DeVos' defense of the cuts drew sharp rebukes from Democratic members of Congress.

This sort of flap is political theater at its most transparent and unhelpful by diverting attention from more important topics.

Pushed for a personal opinion about discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, DeVos replied: "We follow the law as this body has defined".

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