Lansing, MI - Amidst the greatest threat to public education in over a century, U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has no plan and has provided “not a single penny” to help students in special education programs and their families with remote learning. That’s according to two advocates for children with disabilities who spoke last week on Lansing’s The Friday Morning Podcast.
Nancy Spanski is a farmer from Lakeview, Michigan and the parent of a daughter with a disability. Jeff Spitzer-Resnick is a nationally recognized attorney for children with disabilities. Together, they joined host Dennis Denno to explain the daunting challenges faced by special education students during the nationwide lockdown.
Spanski and Spitzer-Resnick noted the lengths to which local school districts were going to make remote education workable, but they criticized the lack of a coherent plan from Secretary DeVos, herself a Michigan native, and the lack of any dedicated funding for Michigan’s most vulnerable students in the recent stimulus bills.
“Local school districts are in a really challenging situation to provide education to students, so they’ve really had to scramble,” said Spanski.
“There are no helpful resources that are available, let alone funding, coming from the federal government. We’ve had three big bills come out of congress that are dealing with this pandemic, and not a single penny of additional money coming to school districts to serve students with disabilities,” said Spitzer-Resnick.
He called Secretary DeVos’s policies for protecting students in special education programs “wishy-washy.”
Spanski and Spitzer-Resnick are calling on the federal government to provide funding, guidance, and support to local special education programs.
Critics of Secretary DeVos point to a history of dismissing or simplifying the challenges facing students with disabilities. She proposed cutting federal support for special education to its lowest level since 2001. She eliminated dozens of guidelines from IDEA, the law requiring schools to educate special needs students. She was awkwardly confronted on camera by CNN after proposing to eliminate federal funding for the Special Olympics.
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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.