Amidst Budget Cuts, DOE’s Plan For Vegas Conference Draws Criticism

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The Department of Education’s decision to go ahead with its plan to have a three-day conference at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas in December is being criticized by at least one member of Congress. The conference is taking place in order to train "financial aid professionals." The DOE recently underwent a $2.5 billion budget reduction under sequestration that affects educational improvement, special education and numerous other programs.

“At a time when the Administration is making the dubious claim that 1,172,000 students ‘will lose access to support [sic] programs and special education,’ the Department should not be diverting resources to lavish conferences,” Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Coburn wrote in a letter to Education Secretary Arne Duncan Wednesday.

He went on, saying “Effective management of sequestration is critical, and the Department should not be choosing Washington bureaucrats over funding for schools that serve low-income children.”

Coburn wants the DOE to cancel the conference and says all future conferences should be put under review. He also questioned whether Duncan’s annual bus tour, which is scheduled to take him through New Mexico, Texas, Arizona and California, is an appropriate use of taxpayer money, The Daily Caller reported.

“It is unclear how this messaging event will directly benefit the taxpayers, states, schools and students that the Department serves,” Coburn wrote. “The Department should consider the cost to taxpayers when planning messaging events like the 2013 bus tour. Education dollars belong in the classroom and should not be wasted on campaign-style bus tours and junkets.”

Sources: The Daily Caller, Ifap.Ed.Gov