Melania Trump on Wednesday highlighted her interest in empowering women and girls along with the administration’s focus on school choice by touring a girls-only charter school with Queen Rania of Jordan and the U.S. education secretary.
The queen was in Washington with her husband, King Abdullah II, who met with President Donald Trump at the White House.
Trump and his education secretary, Betsy DeVos, are big proponents of giving parents with children in the public school system the option of sending them to charter, private or other schools. Critics say allowing choice would drain public schools of much-needed resources. Charter schools, like the one that received the first lady, the queen and the secretary, receive public funding but are independently operated.
“As an all-girls school, you all represent what we work so hard to build for our girls,” Deborah Lockhart, the chief executive officer of Excel Academy Public Charter School, said as her visitors settled in for a discussion with the principal, three students, a parent, a science teacher and an art teacher.
The queen did most of the talking during the portion of the conversation that was open to the news media, questioning Lockhart about the curriculum. The queen is known for her work as an advocate for education and youth and community empowerment. Mrs. Trump said during the presidential campaign that as first lady she would focus on youth cyberbullying. She also has shown an interest in women’s and children’s issues.
After the round-table, Mrs. Trump, the queen and DeVos visited an art class followed by a science class where the gloved and goggled students had what seemed like a challenging assignment: to learn as much as possible about the diet of an owl by dissecting a pellet it had regurgitated.