Sunday, March 5, 2017

The student Trump hailed as a school choice success came recommended by Betsy DeVos and Jeb Bush - The Washington Post

The student Trump hailed as a school choice success came recommended by Betsy DeVos and Jeb Bush - The Washington Post:

The student Trump hailed as a school choice success came recommended by Betsy DeVos and Jeb Bush


Denisha Merriweather listens as President Trump delivers his first address before a joint session of Congress on Feb. 28. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

If you watched President Trump deliver his recent address to Congress, you saw him single out a student named Denisha Merriweather, an impressive Florida graduate student who attended private school with help from a school choice program available for students from low-income families in the Sunshine State. Here’s what he said:
Joining us tonight in the gallery is a remarkable woman, Denisha Merriweather. As a young girl, Denisha struggled in school and failed third grade twice. But then she was able to enroll in a private center for learning, with the help of a tax credit scholarship program. Today, she is the first in her family to graduate, not just from high school, but from college. Later this year, she will get her master’s degree in social work.
What many people watching the speech may not have known is that this wasn’t the first moment in the school choice spotlight for Merriweather.
For years, she has been telling her story alongside famous advocates for education changes, praising the Florida Tax Credit Scholarships program that paid her tuition at a private school in Jacksonville — and she has worked for the nonprofit Step Up for Students, which helps Florida administer the program. She says she is not a Republican but believes in school choice.
Tax credit scholarship programs are one tool in the school choice arsenal that many advocates, including Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, have been pushing for years. Tax credit programs offer incentives for individuals and corporations to donate to organizations that provide money for students to use for tuition and other educational costs at private schools, many of them religious. Voucher programs are similar, using public money directly for private school tuition scholarships. There is only one federally funded voucher program, in D.C.
Critics say these programs help starve traditional public schools, which most students attend, of public money, and that public dollars should not be used for religious schools.
With her tax credit scholarship, Merriweather attended the Esprit de Corps Center for Learning. It was established in 2001 with a vision, according to the website, that “was birthed from the mind of God in the heart of Dr. Jeannette C. Holmes-Vann, the Pastor and Founder of Hope Chapel Ministries, Inc.,” which “included a return to a traditional educational model founded on Christian principles and values.” It uses the A Beka curriculum, used widely by private Christian schools and some home-schoolers, according to this listing of private schoolsThe student Trump hailed as a school choice success came recommended by Betsy DeVos and Jeb Bush - The Washington Post:


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