Wednesday, March 27, 2019

I'm Taking This Cartoonish Supervillainy Personally

Just when you think that this current maladministration can't sink any lower, Betsy DeVos' Department of Education is planning on cutting DoE funding for the Special Olympics' education program. This funding, weighing in on a budget-crippling $18 million, is mainly spent on the Unified Champion Schools program, which unites athletes with and without special needs. It's a program Special Olympics chairman Timothy Shriver described as designed 'to end social isolation' of students with developmental issues.

One of my friends, Dan, is a Special Olympian
. I met him on the job almost a decade ago, and in that time, he has competed in volleyball (for which he won a gold medal) and softball. Dan is one of those 'gentleman athletes' that preparatory schools are supposed to produce- he knows how to work a room, has a repertory of songs at his command, and has met all sorts of dignitaries (his typical greeting is a hug and a 'hey, buddy'... when he told me that he was going to a meeting with Cardinal Dolan of the New York Archdiocese, I joked to him and his aunt/godmother, "remember to address him as 'your eminence, buddy'").

Back in 2014, I wrote of Dan:

Having gotten to know mother and son, I have to say that it's heartwarming to see a man who would have been locked away a couple of generations ago living a happy, productive life- a life in which he has achieved splendid goals.

This is EXACTLY what is at jeopardy if DeVos' plan is put into action. By having outreach in the schools paid for by the taxpaying public, the government sends a message that people with handicaps are valued members of society, that they contribute to the common good. I judge the worth of a society by the way in which its most marginalized members are treated, and the current US isn't looking so good. Sure, there will be private and corporate funding for the Special Olympics, but a public funding component has a symbolic value.

While I am not appalled, I'm not exactly surprised at such a policy coming from the administration of a man capable of this:

The Era of Gratuitous Cruelty marches on.

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