President Trump spoke in support of Catholic education and school choice during a visit to St. Andrew Catholic School in Orlando, Florida on March 3, 2017.
Trump and DeVos Support Catholic Education
During a visit to St. Andrew Catholic School in Orlando, Florida, President Trump spoke in support of Catholic education and school choice—a position echoed by Betsy DeVos, Education Secretary, who is on a mission to give parents access to a wider range of schooling options for their children.
An Education that “Enriches Both the Mind and the Soul”
Trump’s first official trip to a school took place on March 3, 2017, with his visit to St. Andrew Catholic School in Orlando, Florida. According to the National Catholic Register, President Trump visited a fourth-grade classroom and spoke with students and staff. He was quoted as telling Bishop John Noonan, “You understand how much your students benefit from full education, one that enriches both the mind and the soul. That’s a good combination.”
At the end of the tour he addressed a number of dignitaries including Bishop Noonan, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, Senator Marco Rubio, and Florida governor Rick Scott. During his remarks he referred the school-choice bill currently before Congress, for which he has requested bi-partisan support. On February 28, he told Congress that families “should be free to choose the public, private, charter, magnet, religious or home school that is right for them." Financial support for families who prefer to educate their children outside of the public system could be provided, according to Trump and DeVos’ plan, through federally organized tax-credit scholarships. DeVos is also in favor of cutting back federal involvement in education by ending Common Core standards and letting states and local administrations set their own standards.
Tax-credit Scholarships: A Means of Funding Religious Education
The choice of destination for Trump’s first school visit was no coincidence. St. Andrew Catholic School is a religious establishment in which 300 out of 350 students benefit from tax-credit scholarships, according to the Washington Post. Tax-credit scholarships allow individuals and corporations to accumulate tax credits for donating to a scholarship fund, which then distributes scholarships to students and families for tuition or education-related expenses. This is a way of supporting religious schools without directly allocating public funding to them, something prohibited by the constitution of most states.
Advocacy group EdChoice says that 17 states already offer tax-credit scholarship programs, chief amongst them Florida. Henry Fortier, superintendent of the diocesan schools, was quoted by the National Catholic Register as saying that approximately 25% of students in the diocesan schools of Orlando are in the tax-credit scholarship program.
True Catholic Education is a Priority for the SSPX
It remains to be seen how Trump and DeVos will implement this concept federally, but it is to be hoped that they will relieve Catholic families of some of the financial burden of giving their children a genuinely Catholic formation. The proposal could also benefit the Society of St. Pius X’s American schools, which would potentially receive much-needed financial support without the usual drawbacks of public funding: government-imposed curriculums and staffing regulations with their inherent secularism.
True Catholic education is now more vital than ever considering today’s widespread loss of faith and morality. The Society runs a college of Liberal Arts, 25 schools, serving 2,500 students in the United States alone, and many more across the world, committed to providing children with a safe, healthy environment in which they can learn and grow into the strong Catholic leaders that the Church and society need tomorrow.
Source: National Catholic Register - March 3, 2017