Budget Cuts and Betsy “No Backbone” DeVos

Kayla Lien, Opinion Editor and Student Life Editor

Two years ago, one might’ve defended and applauded Betsy DeVos and her efforts in the school system. She, reportedly, put up a fight against the removal of protections for transgender students, but ended up backing down. With a couple more years to grasp the full extent of her actions, it becomes apparent that Betsy DeVos is nothing but a coward, and abandoned the LGBTQ+ community from the very start of her position.

Recently, the Secretary of Education has faced backlash for her proposed budget cut plans — primarily due to her want to stop funding for the Special Olympics. This 60-page plan details moves to increase assistance for magnet schools, grants for charter schools, decrease the amount of federal work-study grants for recipients, stop funding for a number of higher education programs, such as GEAR UP, and more. There’s also plans to stop giving grants to students whose parents died during military service in either Iraq or Afghanistan after September 11, 2001.

As concerning as all of this is, it is worth noting that the budget has not yet gone through, thankfully. What is immediate and unfortunate, is the revelation of DeVos’ treachery. She turned her back on one of the most vulnerable groups of students in the nation. There’s an estimated 5,000,000 LGBTQ+ youth in the U.S., which makes up 7% of the country’s youth, and 150,000 of those students identify as transgender.

Last year, the Department of Education outright proclaimed that they wouldn’t be investigating any civil rights complaints from transgender students. Not only is that a blow to the nation, it’s also a blow to East. Students within this school get bullied and harassed for being transgender — it’s not a fact able to be discussed, as it is more than true. When U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan questioned Mrs. DeVos about the budget cuts, he couldn’t get a straight answer as to whether or not she believed schools should be allowed to discriminate against students based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Read between the lines. It’s obvious, DeVos doesn’t want to be called out on her bigotry by stating anything point-blank, so she evades the question.

The DeVos family has had an extensive anti-LGBTQ+ history. Between donating hundreds of millions of dollars towards anti-gay foundations and the Secretary of Education herself ignoring a huge demographic of students, the most well-off in the nation pretend that queer students don’t exist. Two years ago, she invited two prominently anti-LGBTQ+ organizations to educate fathers on how best to handle their child’s education and welfare. She has also testified that states can decide if schools that receive federal dollars can legally discriminate against LGBTQ+ students.

Even before she was in office, DeVos strongly advocated against marriage equality, raising over $200,000 to the campaign. For 10 years, she sat on the board for the anti-LGBTQ+ Acton Institute. Her father was one of the founders for the Family Research Council, a viciously anti-queer organization. Queer students are suffering, and Betsy DeVos is the reason.

Currently, Mrs. DeVos is under fire for cutting programs for disabled students, and is rightly being criticized. She’s cutting funding for the Hellen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults, which provides “referral, counseling, training, and technical assistance services.” She’s also cutting $26.5 million in funding for higher education programs that service those who utilize American Sign Language.

What’s more, this ridiculously ignorant woman is calling for extreme cutbacks to programs that support ethnic minorities. Out of 16 different previously supported ethnic-serving institutions, there are plans to only continue 5. She also plans to obliterate any and all aid for Hispanic-serving programs.

All this money has to go somewhere, of course, so Mrs. DeVos seems to believe the best place for the revenue is straight into the branch’s executives’ wallets, and so, is increasing their salaries. She justifies cutting these programs by supporting “the President’s goal of increasing support for national security and public safety.” In plain terms, Mrs. DeVos is sacrificing the students to build Trump’s infamous wall, and keep her board execs on her side. The Secretary of Education’s entire job is to ensure equal access to education. By not protecting the students that need it the most, DeVos isn’t fulfilling her sworn duties. She’s failing the nation’s most pivotal generation, and so, is failing America. There are pages upons pages of cuts being made to the school systems, and quite a few of them are extremely detrimental, such as the ones aforementioned.

People like Horace Mann believed education to be “the great equalizer,” but it’s not the great equit-izer. We cannot stand by while the people in power are making it harder to achieve higher education. Our society expects students to go to college, it’s seen as the next chapter of one’s life. Yet, it’s obvious that our government is trying to reverse that. An uneducated nation is a loyal one, one that doesn’t question anything, and accepts the injustices fed to them.