Trump’s ‘School Choice’: Religious Fundamentalism At Taxpayer Expense
President Donald Trump is being praised for a change in tone in his recent address to Congress, but his belligerent attitude toward public education hasn’t changed a bit.
While it’s true he stopped short of repeating his claims that public schools are “broken” and a “government monopoly,” what Trump chose to highlight in his remarks about public schools was a story about a student who left them.
During his education remarks, Trump called out a guest of his in the audience, Denisha Merriweather, who, he says, “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 masters degree in social work.”
Education writers were quick to jump on Trump’s shout-out to speculate that an education tax-credit proposal, like the one Merriweather took advantage of in Florida, would be just the sort of plan Trump would try to push through Congress.
“One of the easiest ways Trump could make good on his promise to expand [school choice],” writes Emma Brown for the Washington Post, “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.”
Brown’s report tells you something about how these tax-credit programs work – they give individuals and corporations tax breaks when they donate to nonprofits which then distribute the money in the form of scholarships to private schools. But she doesn’t describe the school Merriweather transferred to and what type of education the public’s money ultimately paid for.
Some would ask, “Does it matter what kind of school Merriweather attended?” True, Merriweather’s story is admirable, and she should be commended for her accomplishments.
But whenever public money is involved, the interests of the common good, not just the fortunes of a single person, must be considered. And while Merriweather certainly benefited from an education tax-credit program, it would be dangerous to project her success story into a public policy intended for all children nationwide.
Poster Person For Privatization?
First, it should be noted this is hardly the first time Merriweather’s story has been used to tout tax-credit scholarship programs.
Merriweather is not simply an industrious student. She’s also a frequent contributor and Trump’s ‘School Choice’: Religious Fundamentalism At Taxpayer Expense | PopularResistance.Org: