In his State of the Union Address last week, President Donald Trump awarded a scholarship to Philadelphia schoolgirl Janiyah Davis to promote his administration’s policy of school choice, condemning "failing government schools." But Davis attends one of the best charter schools in the city.
Davis attends Math, Science and Technology Community Charter School III located in Northeast Philadelphia, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Despite being in its first year of operation, MaST III has already received 6,500 applications for 100 open seats next year.
Davis' mother received a call from the White House inviting them to the State of the Union Address, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. She told the Inquirer she was surprised, however, when her daughter was awarded a scholarship during the speech, given her daughter's current enrollment.
“I don’t view MaST as a school you want to get out of at all. I view it as a great opportunity,” she told The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Davis' mother told the Inquirer she supports school choice and was honored to be a part of Trump’s speech, but is not sure about the rest of the President's political positions.
Charter schools, which are publicly funded but privately run, are popular in Philadelphia, where the public school system is seen as insufficient for student needs. Penn Admissions started tracking applicants from charter schools in 2011, citing a surge in applicants from these schools.
School choice is an educational model in which public education funds are given to students to allow them to attend the school of their choosing. Supporters of school choice believe every student should have the right to attend the school they feel is best, while opponents say the policy harms public school districts by diverting funding from them.
Vice President Mike Pence recently visited St. Francis de Sales School in West Philadelphia to promote school choice.
“No parent should be forced to send their child to a failing government school,” Pence said, where he was joined by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.
Pence’s visit was met with criticism from education leaders, who were unhappy with the lack of attention paid to Philadelphia’s public school system, especially in light of continued findings of asbestos in school buildings.
“How dare Vice President Pence and Betsy DeVos be in this town today and not deal with the asbestos in these buildings,” American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten told The Philadelphia Inquirer.
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