Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, has been in the news lately for her decision to donate her salary to several charities, including the Special Olympics. This move gained extra attention because President Trump’s budget proposal would eliminate federal funding for the Special Olympics Education Program. I strongly support cutting spending, and believe that our national debt has to be dealt with. However, year after year, I have a problem with where the federal government chooses to cut funds, and this year is no different. Instead of cutting or eliminating funding for the many absurd things our federal government spends money on, President Trump’s budget proposal not only eliminates funding for the Special Olympics, but also cuts funding from research in special education, as well as special education studies and evaluations (you can find this here).
In his third edition of, “Federal Fumbles,” published in November 2017, Senator James Lankford wrote a detailed list of how the federal government wasted or mishandled 473.6 billion dollars. That is more than enough to fund the three programs I listed above, and still have several billion left over. Yet this money was spent on recreating Hamlet with dogs, designing digital puppets, manipulating people who utilize government housing, and digitizing videos from the 1970’s. These are just a few examples from the 86 page report. My question is: why does the government immediately jump to cutting funding for people with special needs?
In my own state of Ohio, Governor Kasich proposed drastically cutting funding for the Bureau of Children with Medical Handicaps last year. 40,000 families use the program, and yet Kasich chose to try to reduce funding for a second time in just six years. In 2011, he cut BCMH funding by 1.25 million dollars. Thankfully, the proposal did not pass, but this goes to show we do not just have a problem with the federal government, it can affect state governments as well. Instead of standing up for, and trying to efficiently support some of the most helpless in our society, government officials time and time again choose to cut funding for the programs they depend on the most. Salaries are never looked at, and careless spending is rarely addressed, but when it comes to programs to help those with special needs, they are apparently expendable.
We have to be vigilant. We cannot continue to allow funding to be cut from such vital programs while such wasteful spending is still occurring. If we can afford to allow the DOD to misplace $1 billion in equipment, and spend $85,000 for an american composer to have a birthday party, we can afford to continue to fund programs as vital as the Special Olympics. If we don’t stand up for those with different abilities, then who will?