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Betsy DeVos K-12

Trump wants to create a national private school choice program. Here's how it could work

President Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos at St. Andrew Catholic School in Orlando, Fla. (Joe Burbank / TNS)
President Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos at St. Andrew Catholic School in Orlando, Fla. (Joe Burbank / TNS)

President Trump, in his recent address to Congress, echoed a long-running campaign theme, urging lawmakers to introduce a “school choice” initiative that would allow “disadvantaged youth” to attend a “public, private, charter, magnet, religious or home school.”

One of Trump’s guests Tuesday night in the House chamber gallery was Denisha Merriweather, who, after twice failing third grade, the president pointed out, graduated from a Florida private school "with the help of a tax credit scholarship program" and is now finishing a master’s degree.

Trump highlighted vouchers again Friday during his first official school visit as president — to a Catholic school run out of the Diocese of Orlando, Fla.

If Merriweather’s appearance and Trump’s Orlando visit are any indication, Trump’s model for how to spread school choice could be Florida’s program. That state uses a tax credit scholarship program to funnel public dollars to private schools.

Here’s a primer on private school choice in Florida, and how it might translate nationally — and affect even voucher-averse states such as California.

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