Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Trump invited a student to his joint address. Her story says a lot about his views on education reform. - The Washington Post

Trump invited a student to his joint address. Her story says a lot about his views on education reform. - The Washington Post:

Trump invited a student to his joint address. Her story says a lot about his views on education reform.


When President Trump delivers his first joint address to Congress Tuesday night, Denisha Merriweather will be there as his invited guest — and her attendance offers a clue about how Trump might fulfill his promise to spend $20 billion on expanding vouchers and other alternatives to traditional public schools.
Merriweather is a young woman who twice failed third grade at a Florida public school before her godmother placed her in a private school. She paid tuition with help from Florida’s tax-credit scholarship program, which gives corporations tax breaks when they donate to nonprofits that then distribute the money in the form of scholarships to private and religious schools.
Attending private school turned her life around, Merriweather says. She graduated from college and expects to receive a master’s degree this spring.
Trump and his education secretary, Betsy DeVos, have both said they believe public education is failing too many students and that the solution is to make sure students have more access to alternatives, including private schools.
One of the easiest ways Trump could make good on his promise to expand that access is to create a federal tax credit that incentivizes corporations to donate to state programs such as Florida’s. Such a credit could be embedded in a broader tax code overhaul that would need a simple majority in Congress to pass.
Florida’s program, established in 2001, provides is the largest of 17 state tax-credit scholarships in the nation. Such tax-credit programs effectively direct public funds to private-school tuition, just like traditional vouchers. But they don’t violate the separation of church and state, courts have found, because money going to religious schools isn’t coming directly from the government.
Also just like traditional vouchers, tax-credit scholarships have fierce critics.
They argue that the tax-credit programs draw needed funds out of the public school system, redirecting money to private schools that aren’t accountable for student performance. (Some Trump invited a student to his joint address. Her story says a lot about his views on education reform. - The Washington Post:

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