Betsy DeVos Defends Cuts to Special Education Funding in Favor of Charter Schools

Photo by Gage Skidmore

The United States Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos attempted to defend $7 billion in cuts from the Education Department before a House subcommittee yesterday. Several of those cuts affect special education programs, including the entire Special Olympics budget.

Under the President’s recently submitted budget, $17.6 million used fund the Special Olympics was cut. When asked if she knew how many children that would affect, DeVos said she didn’t know.

“I’ll answer it for you, that’s OK, no problem,” Representative Mark Pocan (D-WI) stated. “It’s 272,000 kids that are affected.”

DeVos then tried to justify the cuts, saying that the Special Olympics also receive funding from the philanthropic sector.

The proposed budget also cuts 26 percent to state grants for special education, and millions in other programs, including those supporting blind students and children with autism.

At the same time, the budget proposes spending $60 million more in charter school funding. Pocan pointed out a recent study showing that the U.S. government wasted $1 billion on charter schools that never opened, or that were closed.

Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn) and subcommittee chairwoman was appalled, calling the proposed cuts “cruel and reckless,” adding that it “will hurt the middle class and low-income families that most need our help.”

“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 told the subcommittee members.

DeVos has long been a supporter of charter schools and school choice. In February, she unveiled the Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunity Act, a piece of legislation that would give up to $5 billion per year in tax credits to businesses who donate to groups providing school choice scholarships.

Lawmakers and advocates alike quickly took to Twitter to rebuke DeVos:

It is unlikely that the proposed education cuts will be approved. In spite of a Republican majority, the House has blocked education cuts proposed by DeVos for the past two years. Those cuts are even less likely to be approved now, with a Democrat-controlled House.

Jenn Bentley is a writer and editor originally from Cadiz, Kentucky. Her writing has been featured in publications such as The Examiner, The High Tech Society, FansShare, Yahoo News, and others. When she’s not writing or editing, Jenn spends her time raising money for Extra Life and advocating for autism awareness.

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