As is often the case, a president giving his (because there aren’t any women yet…sigh) State of the Union address features Americans in the gallery that represent the policies and programs that they espouse. Such was the case with President Trump’s speech this past Tuesday. And no, I am not taking about the gross presentation of the Medal of Freedom to Rush Limbaugh.
No, instead this refers to the little fourth grade girl hopelessly trapped in a failing public school. After regaling us with the failure of public/government provided education and presenting Philadelphian 4th grader Janiyah Davis as a face of that failure…the president ended his rant by presenting her with an opportunity scholarship to attend the school of her choice.
Now originally I was wondering how these opportunity scholarships are awarded. Is it a lottery? Is it based on need? Is it based on scholarship? I Googled this but I am still not sure. There are a number of programs around the country with the same or similar titles. But I was wondering if this was allowing someone to skip the line to make a political point. And it in fact turns out to be something exactly like that…and something totally the opposite.
However, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Friday that Davis already attends a competitive charter school, Math Science and Technology Community Charter School III (MaST III).
The Inquirer reports that her school is part of a charter network so competitive that it received 6,500 applications for 100 spots in the next school year. The school reportedly opened in the fall with about 900 students, one of whom was Davis. MaST III is funded by taxpayers and does not charge tuition, per the The Inquirer.
In an interview with The Inquirer, Davis’ mother Stephanie said she was “really surprised” and “honored” when they were named in the State of the Union.
“I don’t view MaST as a school you want to get out of at all. I view it as a great opportunity,” she told The Inquirer.emphasis mine
So this story just gets odder and odder and odder. And I needn’t have worried about Ms. Davis skipping the line. She apparently isn’t taking a scholarship opportunity away from someone else who needs it.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos reportedly personally funded this scholarship; she’s known for being a strong advocate for the school choice movement.
So yes, both parties use the SOTU for political theater. Yes, they present fellow Americans who illustrate a point being made. But even in this instance the Trump regime couldn’t actually find a truly needy American student to press home their point. And what do they have to say about it?
The White House did not immediately return TIME’s request for comment.