(via Associated Press)
President Donald Trump toured a private religious school in Florida on Friday, praising it as an ideal institution for “disadvantaged children” while re-emphasizing that his education agenda will focus on school choice.
Trump visited St. Andrew Catholic School in Orlando, dropping in on a fourth-grade classroom and shaking hands with students who said they were learning about the history of Florida. When one girl said she wanted to own her own business, he said with a smile that she’s “gonna make a lot of money. But don’t run for politics.”
The president, who was joined by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, a longtime charter schools advocate, described St. Andrew as “one of the many parochial schools dedicated to educating some of our nation’s most disadvantaged children.”
“Education is the civil rights issue of our time,” said Trump, repeating a line from his address to Congress this week.
Teachers unions were quick to criticize the visit, saying it showed hostility by Trump toward public schools and an intention to turn education into a profit-making industry.
Trump said he would ask lawmakers to pass a bill that would fund school choice for disadvantaged young people, including minority children. He did not offer any details.
Among his guests were Gov. Rick Scott, Sen. Marco Rubio and Denisha Merriweather, who used Florida’s school voucher program to attend a private high school that she credits with turning her life around. Many of St. Andrew’s students attend the school using the same voucher program as Merriweather, said White House spokesman Ninio Fetalvo.
“We want millions more to have the same chance to achieve the great success that you’re achieving,” Trump said. The president also told Latrina Peters-Gipson, the school principal, that “the love you have for what you do is really fantastic.” (continue reading)