President Donald Trump used his State of the Union Address Tuesday to urge Congress to greenlight a plan that would provide federal tax credits for scholarships to private schools and other education services, offering the largest stage yet for one of his administration’s key education priorities.
“The next step forward in building an inclusive society is making sure that every young American gets a great education and the opportunity to achieve the American Dream,” Trump said. “Yet, for too long, countless American children have been trapped in failing government schools.”
States have sought to “rescue these students” with tax-credit scholarship programs, he said, gesturing to invited guests Stephanie Davis, a mother from Philadelphia, and her 4th-grade daughter, Jayinah, who is on the waitlist for Pennsylvania’s tax-credit scholarship program. Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, vetoed an expansion of the program last year. Trump said a scholarship had “become available” for Jayinah, but it’s unclear what he meant because those scholarships are under state control.
“Now, I call on the Congress to give 1 million American children the same opportunity Janiyah has just received,” he said. “Pass the Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunity Act, because no parent should be forced to send their child to a failing government school.”
He also called for an expansion of career and technical education and touted his administration’s recent guidance on prayer in schools.
While Republican members of Congress stood and heartily applauded the education sections in Trump’s hour and 20-minute address, the Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunity Act has not advanced in Congress since U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos first championed it a year ago.