Michiganders Across the State Urge the State Superintendent to Ensure Federal Stimulus Dollars Reach Special Needs and Disadvantaged Students

Lansing, MI - Protect Our Public Schools (POPS) along with dozens of educators, doctors, and community leaders across Michigan sent a letter to the State Superintendent, Dr. Michael Rice, warning that U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is failing to meet the needs of special needs students and children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The letter asks the State Superintendent to require local education agencies to ensure federal stimulus dollars reach special needs students who are especially at risk of being overlooked by U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

The letter was sent as teachers, students, parents, and community leaders have shown increasing amounts of frustration at U.S. Education Secretary DeVos for failing to provide the necessary leadership and adequate resources to teachers and students during the COVID-19 crisis. Teachers, students, and advocates are also alarmed that U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has indicated she will not enforce protections under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

“Betsy DeVos doesn’t care about students with special needs. She is a billionaire who cares about profits and would rather protect Wall Street hedge funds and push for tax breaks for billionaires,” said Ralph Arellano, President of POPS. “This is a person who does not believe in public schools. Even during normal times, Betsy DeVos was cutting critical funding while students, teachers, and parents suffered. Maybe it’s because she never taught in public schools, never sent her kids to public schools, or has zero experience working in public schools. She has been working against public education for decades.”

In October of 2017, Betsy DeVos moved the U.S. Department of Education to dismantle more than 70 protections for students with disabilities. A year later, Betsy DeVos proposed cutting grants to students with disabilities by nearly $113 million to the lowest level since 2001. She’s also proposed cutting all federal funding for the Special Olympics.

“This is about priorities,” said Ellen Offen, an Advisory Member of POPS. “Betsy DeVos thinks it’s more important to fund groups that protest stay-at-home orders than it is to fund our public schools. Like every other state, Michigan is facing huge revenue shortfalls. Yet, public schools got a drop in the bucket compared to big businesses. The U.S. Education Secretary should be advocating for more resources for our students, not less.”

Last month, Congress passed the CARES Act, allocating $13.5 billion to K-12 public schools. Of that, Michigan will receive roughly $400 million or about $290 per student. Meanwhile, America’s largest corporations will receive more than half a trillion dollars in bailout money.


About Protect Our Public Schools

Michigan public schools are under attack from greedy corporate interests and anti-public school ideologues. Protect Our Public Schools is a community of teachers, retired educators, students, parents, and citizens who are dedicated to protecting our public schools. Protect Our Public Schools operates as a section 501(c)(4) tax exempt organization.