Lucky SOTU Student Isn't What She Seemed

Janiyah Davis was already attending a charter school
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 8, 2020 2:00 PM CST
Trump 'Fumbles Key Fact' About Lucky Student
Vice President Mike Pence waves to supporters with Stephanie Davis and her daughter Janiyah Davis along with her siblings at the Philadelphia International Airport in Philadelphia, on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. Janiyah was given the opportunity for a scholarship to head to the school of her choice.   (Tyger Williams/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

President Trump threw the spotlight on a Philadelphia fourth grader during his State of the Union address, but appeared to fumble a key fact—about the kind of school she attended. Trump made Janiyah Davis a showpiece for the school-choice movement Tuesday when he referred to "countless American children ... trapped in failing government schools" and said Davis would at last get a scholarship to attend any school she wanted. But the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Davis already attends the sought-after Math, Science and Technology Community Charter School III. Opened in a shiny new facility last fall, MaST III is funded by taxpayer dollars but run independently, meaning its 900 students don't have to pay tuition.

Even Janiyah's mom, Stephanie Davis, isn't sure how her daughter won the plum State of the Union spot. It seems government officials wanted a student who needed scholarship and settled on Janiyah—who previously had a partial scholarship to attend a private Christian school, but the $5,200 tuition remained hard to afford, and Janiyah moved to MaST III. "I don't view MaST as a school you want to get out of at all," says Davis. "I view it as a great opportunity." Now, Davis says, she and Janiyah plan to discuss their options. Behind all this is a battle between Trump and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf about how much the state incentivizes donations to private-school scholarships. Trump advocates for more legislation to allow students to change schools, per the New York Post. (Read more charter school stories.)

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