Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos visits McMinnville High Schoo - KPTV - FOX 12

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos visits McMinnville High School

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U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos at McMinnville High School. U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos at McMinnville High School.

Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos visited McMinnville High School Wednesday where she not only met with students and staff to learn about their achievements but also drew a crowd of protesters.

DeVos began her visit by sitting in on a staff development session focused on preparing students not only for success in the classroom but for college and careers through real-world skills like problem-solving, emotional intelligence and decision-making.

Next, she visited a classroom and sat with students as they shared their analysis of poetry.

“The reason I came to this school, I read a very engaging article about how the results here have been significantly better for students and I wanted to understand why,” DeVos told reporters.

“I hope she takes away a really positive feeling about the work that our children are doing, the work that our teachers are doing,” district superintendent Maryalice Russell told FOX 12. “Maybe she picks up one of the practices that we’re finding to be most effective with our kids, and if that’s something that could help other districts have success, we’d be really proud of that.”

The visit did not come without protests, however. Dozens of people lined the streets outside the high school carrying signs criticizing DeVos and her policies.

“The list is just enormous of the things she’s said that I disagree with,” protester Trisha Hanchett said. “So when I heard she was coming to town, I just had to come out to make my voice heard.”

There were also a few supporters of DeVos outside the school, particularly when it came to school choice.

“I have three children, I’m a single mom, and one of them is special needs, and he needs a plan in place that’s going to support him,” DeVos supporter Brittany Hall said.

FOX 12 asked DeVos directly about her critics’ claims that she doesn’t support public education. She disputed that claim, replying instead that she simply supported choice.

“I do support public education, so that’s just false, to begin with. I support great schools, great education, and I want to see every school child in this country have an opportunity, an equal opportunity, to get a great education, and regardless of what kind of a school it is,” she told FOX 12. “I think we should focus less on the word that comes before school and more on what we’re doing to make sure each individual child has the opportunity to become everything they can be.”

McMinnville High School junior Tommy Douglas told FOX 12 it was exciting for students to show off their success on the national stage but also said the feeling among students was mixed.

“There was a divide going on. It was kind of split in the middle, some were nervous, some were excited, regardless of their political beliefs, just to be able to show her what we’re all about here, and others were not happy,” Douglas said. “But I think it was a good bonding experience, and principal Tony Vicknair was very good about sharing with us that this is an opportunity to share our beliefs regardless of what our beliefs are, so it doesn’t need to be a divisive time, but rather a time to come together and unite as a school and show what we’re doing right.”

After leaving Oregon, DeVos will head to San Jose, California, to visit a middle school on Thursday and will wrap up her West Coast tour in Bellevue, Washington, on Friday.

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