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Betsy Devos

The same day the gifts and talents of 205 children from Livingston Parish captured the spotlight during the Eighth Annual Special Olympics at Live Oak High School, plans for the great events here and across the nation went into a different direction.       

Education Secretary Betsy Devos announced a proposal to eliminate $17.6 million from the program that has celebrated the hard work and accomplishments of millions of special-needs children across America.

The program supports more than 5 million athletes, 1 million coaches and volunteers and more than 100,000 competitions each year in 170 countries. It also provides educational programs for thousands of schools.

Devos targeted the programs so the federal government can divert more funding to charter schools, as well as to offer tax breaks to individuals and corporate entities who support private schools.

Her proposal has rightfully drawn criticism from both political parties, who labeled her proposal as ludicrous and insensitive.

Devos argued that philanthropic donations can make up the shortfall of her cuts. At the same time, she has proposed reduction of funding to a program that has made it possible for many young people with special needs to compete and succeed in events and activities when otherwise they may have not received the opportunity.

President Donald Trump said March 28 he would block any cuts to Special Olympics, a move which overrides the plan by Devos. We hope he carries through on the plan and applaud him for taking a stand.

In Livingston Parish, we congratulate our school system and particularly the 200-plus youngsters who bring out the best in competition each year. Every one of them deserves a gold medal.

Let us not forget Devos in the award ceremony, either. She deserves a gold medal in tactlessness.

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