(UPI) — President Donald Trump on Wednesday advocated expanding the school choice voucher program nationwide, to use federal money to allow parents to send their children to private schools.
Trump called on Congress to expand the program during remarks at the White House Wednesday, which was also attended by Vice President Mike Pence and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.
“This is what winning for young children and kids from all over the country looks like,” Trump said. “Our families are very proud of the children. Are you all proud of children, I hope? Anybody not proud?”
DeVos has long been a proponent of the school choice program, which covers the cost of private school. The administration has said the program would benefit all students, particularly low-income and at-risk youth.
“During my campaign for President, I promised to fight for school choice — very important,” Trump said. “Today, I’m calling on all lawmakers to work with us to help extend school choice to millions more children all across the United States of America.”
Washington, D.C., because it’s a federal district, is the only place in the United States where the national government covers parents who want to send their kids to private school. Called the D.C. Opportunities Scholarship Program, it will receive a new influx of federal money from the spending bill Congress passed last week.
“It’s a case study in school choice success,” Pence said. “Betsy, we thank you. We thank you… Today is just an early installment of the impact that you’re having.
“This is a President that truly does believe that parents in America ought to be able to choose where their children go to school regardless of their income or their area code.”
Some states, like Pence’s state of Indiana, have instituted programs to use state funds for the same purpose. If Trump and DeVos are successful, though, federal dollars will be available for parents nationwide.
“As we’ve seen in states around the country, these students particularly benefit from school choice programs,” DeVos said. “Parents want their children to have the option to attend [charter] schools.”
“You know, I wasn’t supposed to be here. It wasn’t on my schedule,” Trump said at Wednesday’s event. “When I heard what was going on with Betsy, who’s doing such a great job, I said, ‘Well, I’ll come in and I’ll interrupt Betsy, and maybe I’ll be allowed to say a few words.'”
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