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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

(Newser) – 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.

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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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