Education Secretary Betsy DeVos defended plans to slash funding for the Special Olympics during a testimony before a House subcommittee, saying the department “had to make some heavy decisions.”
Devos appeared in front of lawmakers on Tuesday to review the Education Department’s proposed budget for the coming fiscal year.
According to the budget made public on March 11, the department plans to eliminate 29 programs for an annual savings of $6.7 billion. Among the programs, Special Olympics will see $17.6 million slashed from its funding.
When asked by Wisconsin Rep. Mark Pocan if she knew how many children would be affected by the cut, DeVos said she did not.
“It’s 272,000 kids,” Pocan said.
In @BetsyDeVosED’s budget, there are major cuts to programs like the Special Olympics. Sec. DeVos didn’t know the number of kids who would be hurt by that cut, so I made sure she now knows that 272,000 kids are seeing their support taken away. pic.twitter.com/6ZiOfDU4Ou— Rep. Mark Pocan (@repmarkpocan) March 26, 2019
In 2017, DeVos met with Special Olympics athletes, tweeting after that it was “great to spend time with them.”
Last year, the Education Secretary donated part of her salary to the Special Olympics, according to Politico.
The proposed budget includes $500 million for opening and expanding public charter schools and their facilities, in line with the department’s outlined priority of increasing access to school choice. DeVos, a charter school advocate, said in her prepared statement that the budget has been set “so that families can find the best educational setting for their children.”
DeVos’ comments during the testimony were met with condemnation online.
These are years we can't get back for our children. The damage that Betsy DeVos' actions have on our children will take years to address and for some it is irreparable harm. https://t.co/mHmsvSwGbK— Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) March 26, 2019
Student loan debt now exceeds $1 trillion in this country.
The American dream is falling further out of reach for the millennial generation.
But Betsy Devos wants to dramatically cut student loan forgiveness programs and slash Pell grant funding.
Why is she still around?— Hakeem Jeffries (@RepJeffries) March 22, 2019
DeVos was sworn in as Education Secretary in 2017 and has since rolled back a number of Obama-era policies in favor of charter and magnet schools.