During President Trump’s first joint address to Congress, he called on the group to consider his idea of a school choice bill designed for underprivileged children who are trapped in underfunded and failing schools in their area.
He told Congress and the rest of the country watching that he would be the nation’s biggest supporter of school choice. He also intends to encourage the other states to join his effort in allowing students to choose where they attend school.
What is Gained from the Proposed Bill?
Under the school choice bill, minority students who are trapped in poorly-funded state and county schools would be able to pick where they want to attend. For example, Trump remarked that an Ohio charter school was currently failing due to a lack of funding.
Furthermore, the school voucher program is designed for Latino and African American children whom Trump feels should be able to pick the public, private, magnet, religious, charter, or home school that works for their family. He did not dive into the details during his Tuesday evening speech, but he made it clear that this bill was important to him.
LA Times speculates that Trump will achieve the funding and choice options through a tax credit program. If he uses a tax credit program, it will allow individuals and businesses to allocate some of their money towards nonprofits that have scholarships. Then, students would use those vouchers to attend a school. The nonprofits would cover the child’s tuition or expenses.
This idea is nothing new because there are already 17 states employing a similar program.
However, the speech on Tuesday indicated that Trump might try his plan in Florida. Florida might be able to allocate up to 75 percent of their taxable income to scholarship programs, and students would then be able to qualify for free or reduced lunch programs, too.
Trump Shares A Touching Story
During his speech, Trump called on a woman in the audience known as Denisha Merriweather. As a child, she was in a school that was unable to educate her properly, so she failed the third grade two times. However, she was able to enroll in a private learning center from the proceeds of a tax scholarship program. Now Merriweather is the first to graduate from high school and college in her family. She is working towards a master’s degree in social work.
Trump used her as an example of why all children should have access to proper education. When children receive the education they need, they are more likely to succeed and continue exceeding expectations like Merriweather did.
The speech came just hours after Trump signed his executive order that promotes innovation at historically black colleges and universities in the country.
Will Tax Credits be the Answer?
While tax credits do use public funds to help families attend schools outside of their community boundaries, most of the time these are religious institutions. Some worry that the use of funds will help promote free-market philosophies and add religion back into schools. Others embrace the idea of religious-based education.
For now, the bill is a dream of the President’s, but it soon may become a reality if he stays firm with his plan to push the bill forward.