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Secretary of Education DeVos to visit two Lincoln schools Thursday

Secretary of Education DeVos to visit two Lincoln schools Thursday

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U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is set to visit two Lincoln schools Thursday, as part of her nationwide Rethink School Tour. 

DeVos will visit St. Mary's Catholic School from 10:30-11:30 a.m. and the Science Focus Program at the Lincoln Childrens Zoo - better known as 'zoo school' - from 12:00-2:00 p.m, where she'll meet with students, faculty and take tours of the facilities. 

But her trip brings some concerns with it. 

DeVos is a strong advocate of charter schools, which Nebraska does not have and which are not something everyone in Lincoln agrees with. 

The group Stand For Schools is holding a celebration of public schools at The Bay coffee shop in the Haymarket Thursday starting at 4:30. 

"We felt like this was an opportunity with this visit with the Secretary of Education for public schools to put their best foot forward," said Stand For Schools Executive Director Ann Hunter-Pirtle. 

Pirtle says Nebraska public schools are some of the best in the country - something the state should be proud of. 

"I think we have a chance to demonstrate that to the Secretary of Education, which is an opportunity that doesn't come around every day," she said. 

DeVos' trip has seen several protests already, including Wednesday night when she spoke at Midland University's Omaha campus. 

Lincoln Public Schools Superintendent Steve Joel says LPS is taking student safety seriously, but doesn't think violence will be an issue in Lincoln. 

"I think Lincoln citizens are going to make their points known and their concerns raised," Joel said.

"But I think they're going to do it in a way that's not going to be threatening to children."

Joel says DeVos' visit is a chance to show her what Nebraska is doing right when it comes to public education - and he says that's a lot of things. 

"We have an educational system in this state that is the envy of many states - and it's because it works," he said. 

DeVos will also be at Nelson Mandela Elementary School in Omaha Thursday morning before coming to Lincoln. 

The Lincoln Childrens Zoo will be closed to the public Thursday for her visit. 

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