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Elizabeth Chamberlain, Ed.D., Dean of the School of Education, brings her voice to the Special Olympics and Special Education debate

March 29, 2019

Categories: Blog

Published: March 29, 2019

Aproposal by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to eliminate federal funding for the Special Olympics, and President Trump’s subsequent decision to “override” the proposal, has put the needs of those with disabilities into the spotlight.

During her more than three decades as an educator, Elizabeth Chamberlain, Ed.D., dean of Pacific Oaks’ School of Education, has become an advocate for increasing national support for special education programs. See her full statement regarding the recent decisions below:

Along with many Americans, I was appalled at the recent proposal by Betsy DeVos to cut support to our most vulnerable but gifted population, students with special needs and to the Special Olympics. I was scratching my head on this one because I just didn’t get it. However, I am happy to see that this proposal has been reversed.


I have had the privilege of volunteering with the Special Olympics and will actually be volunteering on April 13, 2019, for the regional games in my local area. It has been one of the best organizations that I have ever volunteered for, it is truly inspirational and highlights the amazing gifts that people with disabilities have.


For my 30 years as an educator, I have had the privilege of working with students with disabilities from elementary all the way to the university level. Furthermore, I have many friends who have children with disabilities. What I have learned from them is that we as a society need to change, not them.


Our ableism can do more harm than good, thinking that people with disabilities need to conform to contexts that were not designed for them. The beauty of the Special Olympics and Special Education is that these places are designed with the needs of students and people with disabilities first.


We need more support, not less, for people with disabilities, whether in K-12 or in Special Olympics.


About Pacific Oaks College

A nonprofit, regionally accredited higher education institution, Pacific Oaks offers bachelor’s and master’s programs in a variety of fields, including Human Development, Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT), Education, Early Childhood Education, Teacher Credentialing, Community Psychology, and Organizational Leadership.

Categories: Blog

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