Special Olympics Needs to be in Our School Systems

Dear Betsy Devos, From All Of Us, Your Budget To Slash Special Olympics Funding Is Cancelled

"Spirit is defined by perseverance, and Special Olympics is the embodiment of that." - Kevin M. McDermont

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I'm not the person who typically writes about topics that deal with politics, but the budget that Betsy Devos purposed earlier this week transcends politics. The fact that her budget purposes the slashing of funding for Special Olympics in the field of education is a topic that concerns each and every one of us. At its heart, Special Olympics strives to provide equal opportunities to ALL people. What Betsy Devos is purposing takes that and throws it out the window.

I will be quite honest, I haven't done a significant amount of research on her budget or exactly what it says about slashing funds for Special Olympics, but that doesn't matter. The fact of the matter is that if this bill passes it ostracizes an entire population of people from enjoying the freedoms of participating in sports. Not to mention, it is essentially saying that the Special Olympics program isn't worth funding. If we are saying that, then what does that say about how we view those athletes who participate in Special Olympics? They're inferior to us? If that's what we are trying to say, then I'm sorry but we've gotten something royally screwed up along the way.

For us to sit here and take away this program from thousands of students all over the United States will NEVER be OK. I may not know a lot about budgeting or what exactly Betsy Devos purposed for other programs, but I can take a wild guess that other sports programs were not purposed to be slashed. If that is the truth, I'm sorry but that is not right at all. The people that participate in Special Olympics are no different than you and me. They are humans just as we are, and they deserve to be treated as so. They deserve to have the exact same opportunities that everyone else has, including athletics!

Betsy Devos, you screwed this one up.

I truly don't understand how the United States Secretary of Education could, or would, ever think this is a program that should be defunded, or have funds taken from them, in any capacity. I may not have the understanding of someone who has spent years looking over budgets and having to make hard decisions on where to pull funds or add funds, but this I will take a stance on. I have a number of friends who have siblings who participate in Special Olympics and they are just as special and important as any football player who's working towards a Division 1 scholarship.

At the end of the day what this comes down to is how we view others who appear to be "different" than we are. If we saw the athletes that participated in the Special Olympics on the same level as the high school athletes that hundreds of people come out to see under the blinding lights on a Friday night this wouldn't even be a topic of discussion. But the reality is we don't have eyes like God does all the time. We fail to see each other as equals and that's where the entirety of the problem lies. I'm not saying this as someone who has all the answers or has it all figured out, but as someone who realizes that this is an issue and desperately needs to be fixed. So America, let's wake up and get with the times. Let's start seeing each other as equals and stop showing so much partiality.

To Betsy Devos, and anyone else working on this budget, I beg of you to please reconsider the slashing of funds from Special Olympics programs. These students deserve to be able to have a place where they can participate in sports and be shown that they are just as important as anyone else. I know it's not a simple fix and it requires a lot of hard decisions to be made, but I think as human beings this is something we need to stand up for. Keep Special Olympics in school unless you are prepared to defund all athletic programs. That's all I'm trying to say.

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I Am A College Student, And I Think Free Tuition Is Unfair To Everyone Who's Already Paid For It

Stop expecting others to pay for you.

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I attend Fordham University, a private university in the Bronx.

I commute to school because I can't afford to take out more loans than I already do.

Granted, I've received scholarships because of my grades, but they don't cover my whole tuition. I am nineteen years old and I have already amassed the debt of a 40-year-old. I work part-time and the money I make covers the bills I have to pay. I come from a middle-class family, but my dad can't afford to pay off my college loans.

I'm not complaining because I want my dad to pay my loans off for me; rather I am complaining because while my dad can't pay my loans off (which, believe me, he wants too), he's about to start paying off someone else's.

During the election, Bernie frequently advocated for free college.

Now, if he knew enough about economics he would know it simply isn't feasible. Luckily for him, he is seeing his plan enacted by Cuomo in NY. Cuomo has just announced that in NY, state public college will be free.

Before we go any further, it's important to understand what 'free' means.

Nothing is free; every single government program is paid for by the taxpayers. If you don't make enough to have to pay taxes, then something like this doesn't bother you. If you live off welfare and don't pay taxes, then something like this doesn't bother you. When someone offers someone something free, it's easy to take it, like it, and advocate for it, simply because you are not the one paying for it.

Cuomo's free college plan will cost $163,000,000 in the first year (Did that take your breath away too?). Now, in order to pay for this, NY state will increase their spending on higher education to cover these costs. Putting two and two together, if the state decides to raise their budget, they need money. If they need money they look to the taxpayers. The taxpayers are now forced to foot the bill for this program.

I think education is extremely important and useful.

However, my feelings on the importance of education does not mean that I think it should be free. Is college expensive? Yes -- but more so for private universities. Public universities like SUNY Cortland cost around $6,470 per year for in-state residents. That is still significantly less than one of my loans for one semester.

I've been told that maybe I shouldn't have picked a private university, but like I said, I believe education is important. I want to take advantage of the education this country offers, and so I am going to choose the best university I could, which is how I ended up at Fordham. I am not knocking public universities, they are fine institutions, they are just not for me.

My problems with this new legislation lie in the following: Nowhere are there any provisions that force the student receiving aid to have a part-time job.

I work part-time, my sister works part-time, and plenty of my friends work part-time. Working and going to school is stressful, but I do it because I need money. I need money to pay my loans off and buy my textbooks, among other things. The reason I need money is because my parents can't afford to pay off my loans and textbooks as well as both of my sisters'. There is absolutely no reason why every student who will be receiving aid is not forced to have a part-time job, whether it be working in the school library or waitressing.

We are setting up these young adults up for failure, allowing them to think someone else will always be there to foot their bills. It's ridiculous. What bothers me the most, though, is that my dad has to pay for this. Not only my dad, but plenty of senior citizens who don't even have kids, among everyone else.

The cost of living is only going up, yet paychecks rarely do the same. Further taxation is not a solution. The point of free college is to help young adults join the workforce and better our economy; however, people my parents' age are also needed to help better our economy. How are they supposed to do so when they can't spend their money because they are too busy paying taxes?

Free college is not free, the same way free healthcare isn't free.

There is only so much more the taxpayers can take. So to all the students about to get free college: get a part-time job, take personal responsibility, and take out a loan — just like the rest of us do. The world isn't going to coddle you much longer, so start acting like an adult.

Cover Image Credit: https://timedotcom.files.wordpress.com/2017/04/free-college-new-york-state.jpg?quality=85

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My Learning Disability Was Not Evident, But It Was Not Worth Hiding Either

Will the earth stop turning the day I can catch a ball? If I could do geometry correctly would it be some groundbreaking revelation? No.

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For the first eighteen years of my life, I would not say the words, "I have a learning disability".

I was diagnosed soon after I realized I couldn't hold a pencil correctly, differentiate my lefts and rights, or recognize symbols correctly. My disability is not a black and white common issue, not a lot of people understand it; I struggle to understand myself. I couldn't comprehend why one eye had control over the way my hands worked, my ability to do the math, and the way I see lines and shapes.

A lot of people used to comment on my handwriting, telling me I had "boy handwriting". I would often clench my pencil, clearly frustrated and ignore them. For years, I thought I was just dumb.

I did well in school, but I constantly asked myself why I couldn't just be normal. I watched my peers excel in subjects like math and I felt stupid. I couldn't see the correlations they saw in numbers. Numbers were just numbers to me, but to the "smart people" numbers were like puzzle pieces.

I was odd, I did well in school and a lot of people told me I was smart, but in my mind, I was a complete idiot. I told people that I had problems with my eyes and it hindered my visual processing and people often responded, "But you're so smart." That had nothing to do with it. IQ does not equal ability, being told "you're smart" does not change the fact that I have a disability.

I have had a lot of people say to me, "I wouldn't even know if you didn't tell me." Why should I have to? Will the earth stop turning the day I can catch a ball? If I could do geometry correctly would it be some groundbreaking revelation? No. My point is, the lines will never stop shifting, my pencil will never get easier to hold, I'll still use my fingers to differentiate left and right, but that doesn't make me "less".

No, I'm not some person who struggled greatly in school and ended up defying the odds and getting into a super elite school. I'm an incredibly average person, at a decent school, and that's okay.

I knew that I wouldn't have an inspirational you-can-do-it-too-moment. The best thing that came out of having this disability is being able to come to terms with it. To this day, it is my Achille's heel, my domino effect, and cross to carry. It isn't a big deal to some people but's my greatest obstacle.

This disability caused me to isolate myself from my peers as a child, it killed my self-esteem and kept me from so many opportunities. Sucks right? Not really. Because I saw my self as less at one point, I now see myself as a force to be reckoned with.

I may not be the person who could catch a ball in gym class, but I was the same ten-year-old that walked into the Guidance Counselor's office and said, "I don't need accommodations."

This disability has taken me down dark roads and has caused me to make self-destructive choices, but it taught me a lot about myself. I learned that everybody has something. Whether it's a learning disability, a social disorder, mental health ailments, health complications, etc.

The world will not stop turning because I have a learning disability and poor self-esteem; we have much bigger problems. Above all, we have much greater joys in this life. I am one person out of seven billion; I'm not that different. It took years to realize that I am not "messed up", rather, I'm gifted in ways I still am learning to appreciate.

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