Public and charter school advocates react to DeVos' visit

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LINCOLN, Neb. -- The charter school debate continues as Education Secretary Betsy Devos's visit gets closer. Public School advocates and pro-charter school groups all agree that DeVos's visit is exciting and a great opportunity for Nebraska.

Their reasons why they're excited, differ a lot.

Rachel Terry is a mother of three children and a big local advocate of charter schools, because of the range of choices they give students and parents.

"Having those options help parents find the best fit for their kids," said Terry.

She lived in Colorado for years where her kids attended charter schools. With DeVos's visit, she is excited because she too is pro-choice school systems, and backs charter schools which is currently not allowed in Nebraska.

"While it's taken a while to get to this point in Nebraska, it puts us in a great position to be able to see, what's worked, what's not worked, and choose the very best things to start out with," said Terry.

Public school advocates though are excited to show the Education Secretary why the state doesn't need charter schools.

"Nebraska public schools has one of the highest graduation rates in the country, and the 7th highest college going rates in the country. So, we've got a lot to be proud of and I think we have an opportunity to demonstrate that to the secretary of education," said Ann Hunter-Pirtle the Executive Director for Stand for Schools.

Stand for Schools is a Nebraska non-profit that supports public education programs. They agree that students and parents need choices. However, with all the choices Lincoln offers already such as programs like the Zoo School and Career Academy, that they don't need a whole lot more.

"Choice is a nice thing to talk about but we already have it in Nebraska and it comes with consequences to our public schools and our public school students," said Hunter-Pirtle.

Superintendent Dr. Steve Joel said he is also excited to show DeVos the options LPS already offers for students.

"I am steadfast in my belief that it works here, and it works in our state and we have to be careful if in affect other concepts that are not proven to yield the kind of results that we're getting are being introduced against our will. With the expectation that we are going to some how figure out how students are going to be successful," said Joel.

Terry said she thinks public schools are great, but their is always room for growth.

"A lot of people would like to keep things just as they are. But I really have the vision that we can continue to have what we have but build on it with a lot of innovations that are going on around the country and even around the world," said Terry.

Terry belongs to a group called Educate Nebraska which is a pro-choice education group. She said her program will not be holding gatherings for DeVos's visit.

However, some public school advocates will be holding protests and rally's at two different locations on Thursday afternoon.