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Protest planned during U.S. Education Secretary DeVos's McMinnville High School visit

FILE -- Education Secretary-designate Betsy DeVos testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017, at her confirmation hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. (AP File Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Protesters plan to descend on McMinnville High School on Wednesday during a visit by U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

The group Action Together Oregon: Yamhill Valley says it thinks her advocacy for charter schools and vouchers undermines a strong public education system.

“We advocate for fully funding our public education system to ensure our students and their families all have equal access to the stability that it provides," the group said on its Facebook page.

DeVos won’t be giving a speech, but she will tour the high school and sit in on classes.

The McMinnville School District superintendent and high school principal say DeVos’s visit is an opportunity to teach students how to engage with people they may not agree with.

"The most important thing we can do is share the knowledge and experiences we gained to help students be successful,” said Superintendent Maryalice Russell. “And anything we can do to share that information with someone else, regardless of their position or their belief systems, I think will help them shape their own decisions and future beliefs about education."

U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, whose district includes the city of McMinnville, said in a statement Tuesday she welcomes the secretary to Oregon.

“It is my hope that the Secretary’s visit to McMinnville High School will demonstrate the potential of public education and inspire her to work with Congress to pass and implement policies that will lead to all our country’s public schools getting the funding and support they need to help every student succeed,” she said.”

But the Oregon Education Association, the state's powerful teachers union, was not as welcoming.

“Betsy DeVos’s anti-public education policies are not welcome in Oregon’s classrooms. In our state, we believe in public education and our state’s educators stand up for all public school students,” OEA's President C. John Larson said in a statement sent to the media Tuesday evening. “Oregon cannot afford federal cuts to education driven by an out-of-touch ideology that puts profit before students. We hope that is the message that Ms. DeVos will take back to the White House.”

The McMinnville School District safety manager says McMinnville police, sheriff’s deputies and the U.S. Marshals Service will be on scene for security. Protesters are encouraged to stay off school property.

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