Education

"Denisha Merriweather’s Witness"

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"I went to about four or five different schools before sixth grade, but as far as I can remember I never did great in school. Whenever I walked into a classroom, teachers would sigh. I got into fights a lot as a student. I failed out of third grade twice,” Denisha Merriweather tells me, explaining her early experience in public school on the east side of Jacksonville, Fla.

But that very same girl received a standing ovation on the floor of the House of Representatives during President Donald Trump’s joint address on Tuesday, as the president lauded Denisha for becoming the first in her family to graduate from high school and college. And this spring, she will graduate from the University of South Florida with a master’s degree in social work. . . .

That gratitude fuels her passion for the school-choice movement, but her dedication also stems from witnessing the struggles of her family. “All my younger siblings dropped out of school. Two of my brothers have been in and out of jail, and my youngest sister has failed out three times,” she explains, “all because they didn’t have the opportunity to get out of that public school.”