U.S. Education Secretary Betsy Devos kicked off her “Rethink School” tour in Casper.
Devos toured Woods Learning Center after passing protesters.
Secretary Betsy Devos aims to find solutions for future generations.
"Rethinking school is ultimately about encouraging you. And all of us to be lifelong learners, and its' about providing wide ranges of options to make that possible. The pursuit of truth doesn't end with a diploma,” said Devos.
Devos said she chose Casper as her first stop, because our schools are already demonstrating “re-thinking.”
"We picked Casper and Natrona County because the people here have begun to rethink school in a significant way. And are really looking to meet the needs of students from where they are,” said Devos.
Before Secretary Devos started her tour at Woods Learning Center, she was greeted by protesters outside.
She started by joining kids in their “sharing circle”, where kids passed around a microphone to say one thing they’re feeling today.
Then, she visited students in a classroom and met students individually.
She then went to see a music class in session, and ended the tour with a class doing arts and crafts, also introducing herself to the kids, one by one.
After a while, she spoke in the school’s gym about her “re-think school” tour goals.
"We've been doing the same thing for generations in schools, but expecting different and better results. The founding teachers of woods broke that mold. They recognized that to improve, they had to try something different. we need to encourage more to follow their example,” said Devos.
Some people were curious as to whether the kids will notice that all the “leaders” in the U.S. that Devos pointed out are primarily white men, and lacking Native Americans.
"We are primarily a white community, and that's part of the reason why as a school, we have a global focus of study every year. And we teach kids about not only ancient countries, but current countries and what that looks like. and how yeah, people before us may have looked different, but this is our reality now,” said Deyonne Jackson, a teacher.
Devos said ultimately, the goal of Rethink School is to help students.
"To help each of you realize your full potential, and achieve your dreams. we can, we must, and we will rethink school,” said Devos.
But protesters outside were fired up, speaking against her policies.
"She's not willing to ask the for-profit schools to commit to treating LGBTQ people appropriately. She is uninterested in pursuing the idea that students who are differently abled should be mainstreamed, and everybody goes to school together,” said Jane Ifland, the Coordinator of Indivisible Casper.
She also said America’s public schools should be institutions of equality and advancement.
"And I don't see her doing anything that in my estimation advances the cause of American public education. And I find that to be a damn shame,” said Ifland.
After Casper, Devos also went to the Wind River Reservation to visit St. Stephens Indian Mission.
She will also be heading to Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, and end the Rethink School Back to school tour in Indiana.