First lady Melania Trump and Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan paid a visit to an all-girls D.C. charter school on Wednesday, an event that served to promote the empowerment of young women and to highlight the Trump administration’s interest in promoting alternatives to traditional public schools.
Students greeted the women with flowers as they arrived at Excel Academy Public Charter School, which serves nearly 700 mostly African American girls in preschool through eighth grade. The school is east of the Anacostia River in one of Washington’s poorest neighborhoods. The first lady and the queen then met with parents and teachers and toured science and art classes.
Accompanying them was Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, an ardent proponent of both charter schools — which are funded by taxpayers but privately run — and vouchers for private and religious schools.
Rania, whose husband, King Abdullah II, met with President Trump at the White House on Wednesday, is known for her work in advocacy and youth and community empowerment. Melania Trump has said she wants to focus on fighting cyberbullying among young people, and last week made a rare public appearance to give the State Department’s International Women of Courage Award to 13 political and social activists from around the world.
The first lady said in a statement after her school visit that Excel is an “exceptional example of a school preparing young women both academically and personally so that they may succeed in a global community.” On Common Core-aligned standardized tests, 25 percent of Excel’s students met grade-level expectations in English, while 15 percent met grade-level expectations in math. The school was rated Tier 2, or mid-performing, by the D.C. Public Charter School Board.