Mike Pence speaks in West Philadelphia on school choice

Vice President Mike Pence made a swing through Pennsylvania to tout the Trump administration's support for funding tuition for private school students and, on the campaign side, to make an appeal to women voters.

Wednesday's visit includes U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and senior Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway, first in West Philadelphia and later in suburban Harrisburg.

DeVos is touring the states to tout her $5 billion plan to fund tuition for private school students. The “Education Freedom Scholarships” allow businesses and individuals to get 100% federal tax credits for donations to scholarship-granting groups.

Vice President Mike Pence (Official White House photo by D. Myles Cullen)

Pennsylvania has a similar tax-credit program for businesses, although critics say it lacks accountability, transparency and oversight, and siphons cash away from public schools.

The first event took place at Saint Francis de Sales School. From there, Pence will travel to Harrisburg to attend a Women for Trump campaign event.

Pence's visit comes a day after President Donald Trump surprised a fourth grade student from Philadelphia with an "opportunity scholarship" during his State of the Union address.

The president invited mother-daughter pair Stephanie and Janiyah Davis to listen to his annual address. The two sat in the House chamber, both wearing light pink.

“Janiyah and Stephanie are in the gallery,” Trump said. “Stephanie, thank you so much for being here with your beautiful daughter, thank you very much.”


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President Trump unveiled a scholarship for Janiyah, who had been stuck on a waitlist of an estimated 50,000 students in Pennsylvania.

The president unveiled a scholarship for Janiyah, who had been on a waitlist of an estimated 50,000 students in Pennsylvania.

“Janiyah, I have some good news for you," the president said. "Your long wait is over. I can proudly announce tonight that an opportunity scholarship has become available. It is going to you, and you will soon be heading to the school of your choice.”

He added: “Now, I call on Congress to give students the opportunity. Pass the Freedom Scholarships and Opportunity Act because no parent should be forced to send their child to a failing government school.”

The White House says the administration’s school choice plan has more than 120 congressional co-sponsors and would encourage states to pursue education freedom policies.

The scholarships, according to the White House, would help families pay for expenses such as tuition, dual enrollment, out-of-district transportation, tutoring and apprenticeships.

It is unclear when Congress might consider the legislation.


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The Associated Press contributed to this report.