On Tuesday, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos defended budget cuts to programs including the Special Olympics in the administration’s budget proposal. The budget, proposed by President Trump and supported by DeVos, calls for approximately $18 million in cuts to Special Olympics. A shameful position from someone the general public knew was unqualified to lead the Department of Education. Why in the world did Senator John Hoeven cast a deciding vote to put us in this position?
Recall in February of 2017, Hoeven cast the deciding vote in favor of Betsy Devos for Education Secretary. His vote created a tie in the Senate forcing Vice President Mike Pence to cast a vote. 51-50 and Devos is now leading our nation’s Education Department. Hoeven ignored what appeared to be a strong grassroots effort by teachers, administrators, parents, and voters declaring Devos was not qualified for such an important role. His offices were flooded with calls to the point his voicemail inbox was full and people could no longer leave messages for their public servant. He ignored constituents. North Dakotans should not forget about it.
A few people have begun to ask why Special Olympics is receiving federal funding. What is is used for? Some of the federal funding for Special Olympics is used for “Unified Champion Schools” to increase the inclusion of people with all abilities in our public schools and combat bullying. According to the Special Olympics website, “as of 2018 final reporting, nearly 3 million young people engaged in inclusive experiences and school activities across the United States.” Apparently, this doesn’t meet the priorities of the administration looking to make cuts. It should as children with disabilities are more likely to be bullied in school than their peers.
Budget proposals show priorities. Is this really what Trump and Devos prioritize? Eliminating money for a program for children with disabilities because of a rushed tax cut that increased the national debt? They can’t find $18 million to help combat bullying for students, but can transfer $5 billion for a border wall? This is shameful. How did we get here? The warning signs were there and shared loudly. Unfortunately, people like Senator John Hoeven didn’t listen at the time. Perhaps, he’ll listen when voters tell him to reject the proposed cuts to programs like the Special Olympics. The Senator’s contact information can be found here if voters want to voice their opinion by phone or email.