Trump overrides Devos’s Special Olympics cut

Last week the Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, proposed and defended a budget that cut the special education funding by nearly 26% (about a $25.5M cut), including eliminating nearly $18M worth of funding for the Special Olympics.

These cuts are a result of the Education Department facing a budget reduction of 10%, the third year that the department has faced cuts under the Trump Administration.

Despite facing budget cuts, why should crucial programs such as special education be punished? The Special Olympics is a program that allows intellectually disabled athletes participate in sports and physical activities- showing the world that they are just like everyone else.

The Special Olympics was founded by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, sister to former President John F. Kennedy. Soon after her brother took office, Shriver dedicated her time to change the way the world viewed – or ignored – those with mental disabilities.

Throughout the 1960’s Eunice Shriver created landmarks through legislation dealing with mental disabilities and rights for those with mental disabilities. In July of 1968, the world witnessed the first ever Special Olympics in Chicago.

Cuts to programs like these – programs that our nation’s former leaders worked hard to put in place – give the idea that people with disabilities aren’t supported by our nation’s administration, especially the Department of Education.

Members of the House of Representatives quickly lashed out against Devos’s cuts and rightfully justified that cutting the federal funding to the Special Olympics and reducing funding for special education is wrong.

“This is a Trump administration issue about the reflection of their priorities and the way that they see those that are different, that are vulnerable, in our country,” Kennedy said to ABC News.

The general public also provided backlash to the proposed budget cuts, especially those who have someone with mental disabilities close to them.

“As the parent of a special-needs child, I am filled with anger and disgust at the cuts being proposed for our educational system and to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s justifications for making such cuts.” stated Edward Smith Jr. in a New York Times ‘Letter to the Editor.’

Last Thursday DeVos quickly reversed the proposition after she was undermined by her boss, President Donald Trump. The override of the budget cuts should not be seen as a good deed on his part, but as a hasty response to the outrage and backlash by the public.

“The Special Olympics will be funded. I just told my people, I want to fund the Special Olympics and I just authorized a funding of the Special Olympics,” Trump said before heading to a rally in Michigan, “I’ve been to the Special Olympics. I think it’s incredible and I just authorized a funding. I heard about it this morning. I have overridden my people. We’re funding the Special Olympics.”

These cuts surprisingly aren’t new. DeVos had proposed the cuts twice before, and lawmakers have shut it down both times before. Last week the Secretary of Education defended the proposed budget cut twice, stating that the Special Olympics raises enough private funding to sustain itself effectively.

When will Betsy DeVos realize that enough is enough? Time and time again she has proposed to cut and eliminate funding to the Special Olympics and special education, and time and time again her propositions have been rightfully shut down.

Programs like these are what make America the land of opportunity. It is our right to a free education. It is our right not to be discriminated against. Infringing on those rights are completely unamerican.

Politicians and citizens alike have worked extremely hard over the last 50 years to make sure these programs were possible. They raised money, and created laws and programs out of virtually nothing. They destroyed the stigma about people with mental disabilities, and gave them their opportunity to show that they too can be anything they want to be.

If anything, the Special Olympics and special education programs around the country should be highlighted as priorities when concerning the budget. Their funding should not be cut, but increased because the more attention, time, and opportunities provided to students and athletes with mental disabilities, the more they can feel they are not forgotten.

If Betsy DeVos thinks she can cut and eliminate funding, then she’s got another think coming.