In the past few days, United States Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has taken a barrage of public shaming and insults from both ordinary citizens and members of Congress. The insults may have gone a bit too far, but the secretary’s actions underscore the fact that she is unqualified for her position.
DeVos appeared before the House Appropriations Committee in an attempt to justify the Trump administration’s 2020 budget request. What followed was an astoundingly embarrassing defense while highlighting her lack of empathy and cluelessness.
The administration has proposed the elimination of Special Olympics funding — $17.6 million — alongside more than $20 million in cuts to programs for deaf and blind students.
Although the proposed cuts for the 2020 budget are not the major source of federal funding for students with disabilities, the lack of empathy and the audacity to cut funding for special needs students should appall any right-minded individual.
The vast majority comes from Part B of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, which is designed to support the needs of students with disabilities from ages three to 21.
DeVos could not defend the cuts or elimination of these programs but rather claimed, “We had to make some difficult decisions.” She said it should be left up to the states and private philanthropy to fund those programs. An atrocious defense.
One of the main reasons DeVos came under intense criticism for cutting this federal funding was that the secretary has found money to support her own projects.
She has proposed creating a controversial new federal tax-credit program, capped at $5 billion that would allow the use of public taxpayer money for private and religious schooling. She also proposed adding $60 million to the Charter Schools Program, which funds the creation and expansion of charter schools.
Cutting money to support special needs students? OK. Finding money to support the expansion of alternatives to public school districts which enroll most U.S. schoolchildren, while cutting special education? Great.
Yet, it is not only DeVos’ proposed cuts to special education that underscore how unfit she is to lead the Department of Education.
She has led the appalling effort to overhaul Title IX, the 1972 law prohibiting sex discrimination in educational programs that receive federal funding.
In short, Title IX is the law that governs school sexual assault. DeVos’ overhaul is meant to bolster the rights of those accused of sexual assault while narrowing the responsibilities that schools have to investigate sexual misconduct.
Strengthening the due-process rights for those accused of sexually assaulting someone? OK. Gutting protections for victims of sexual assault? Why not?
DeVos has demonstrated time and time again that she is beyond unqualified to lead the Department of Education. One can only hope she feels shame and embarrassment for proposing cuts to special needs students while at the same time protecting those accused of sexual assault.
Shame on you.