Donald Trump’s choice for Education Secretary Betsy DeVos feels like a very unfortunate selection. When the House invites her to speak before various committees, she comes across as basically, out of it. Her brother started the mercenary firm Blackwater and still advises POTUS on matters of national security. At least, he appears cognizant, but DeVos gives the impression that she walks through life in a daze. Take this latest hearing.
DeVos tried to defend an indefensible draconian $7 billion budget cut to education programs and totally killing the $18 million federal funds that supported the Special Olympics.
The Special Olympics was founded by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Maria Shriver’s mother, in 1968. The program had over five million athletes in 174 countries at last count, and it is the largest sports organization for people with physical and/or intellectual disabilities. The Special Olympics is recognized by the International Olympic Committee.
Member of the House Appropriations subcommittee Wisconsin Representative Mark Pocan (R-WI) grilled DeVos on her intent to cut the Special Olympics program and additional special ed programs. He asked her how many kids would be impacted by her cuts to the Special Olympics. Naturally, she did not know, so he said according to NBC News:
‘I’ll answer it for you. that’s OK, no problem,, “It’s 272,000 kids that are affected.’
DeVos answered that her rich friends in the “philanthropic section” would support the Special Olympics. Yet, she did not volunteer to fundraise. This was her brilliant idea:
‘I think that the Special Olympics is an awesome organization, one that is well supported by the philanthropic sector as well.’
That was when Pocan cut in and pointed out that she had cut her budget proposal 26 percent for state grants to special education. She also cut millions in programs for students who are blind.
Pocan has nephews on the autism spectrum, so this was personal for him. The representative said:
‘What is it that we have a problem with, with children who are in special education?’
‘Supporting children with special needs, we have continued to hold that funding at a level amount and in the context of a budget proposal that is a 10 percent reduction.’
Then, Pocan stopped the secretary, noting that she was not answering his questions.
Another member of the Appropriations subcommittee Barbara Lee (D-CA) pointed out that DeVos had tried to “zero out” the Special Olympics before. Lee said:
‘I still can’t understand why you would go after disabled children in your budget, You zero that out. It’s appalling.’
The education budget cuts did not stop there. Chair of the Appropriations subcommittee Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) pointed out that Trump’s people cut around $2 billion in Pell Grants, which has made it possible for so many students to attend college. DeVos also cut billions from 30 additional programs.
Trump’s experience with higher education has only been his creation of the fraudulent Trump University, which conned people who wanted to be successful out of large chunks of their money. It has been sued more than once.
POTUS has had a history of cutting education spending. Fortunately, Congress increased spending for students with disabilities.
The Special Olympics has received a portion of funding from private companies.