Trump Touts School Vouchers In Address To Joint Congress

During his first address to a joint session of Congress, President Donald J. Trump touted his proposal to initiate a federal school voucher program that will divert tax dollars into private schools.

Calling education “the civil rights issue of our time,” Trump told Con­gress, “I am calling upon members of both parties to pass an education bill that funds school choice for disadvantaged youth, including millions of African-American and La­tino children. These families should be free to choose the public, private, charter, magnet, religious or home school that is right for them.”

Trump’s remarks came the same day yet another study on the shortcomings of voucher programs was released. The Economic Policy Institute report found that the “insignificant” gains observed through voucher programs aren’t worth the risks they pose to public education.

Trump campaigned on a proposal of diverting $20 billion in federal education funding to voucher programs. In his budget, he has proposed $250 million for vouchers.

During his Feb. 28 address,  he singled out Denisha Merriweather, who Trump said enrolled in a private school “with the help of a tax credit scholarship program.” (Tuition tax credits are a type of voucher program.)

A few days after his speech, Trump made his first presidential visit to a school. He was joined by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, also a  voucher supporter, on a tour of a Florida Roman Catholic school that receives public funding through that state’s tuition tax credit program.