(HAMILTON)- Tomorrow, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is expected to attend Butler Tech’s “Signing Day” in which soon-to-graduates will announce which employers they will be working for upon graduation much like college sports prospects do.  Before we respond to Devos’ visit, it’s important to straight the record straight so any coverage of this event does not mislead voters.

In each federal budget they have proposed, Secretary DeVos and the Trump Administration has sought to cut Career and Technical Education (“CTE”) funding to provide more funding for vouchers for private schools and to otherwise reduce the U.S. Department of Education’s budget to address the rising deficits caused by the Trump Administration’s massive tax cuts predominantly benefitting corporations and the wealthiest Americans.  Had DeVos and Trump had their way last year, Ohio would have lost over $3 million in federal grant funding for CTE right now, funding that has helped Butler Tech grow and help Butler County adapt to a changing labor market.

In addition to those cuts, the Administration has consistently proposed slashing funding for worker training and retraining programs.  In Trump’s first budget, the Administration proposed cutting Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act funding by over a third. In the Administration’s most recent budget proposal, the Administration flat funds CTE grant funding again except for a separate program that focuses on funding CTE in STEM fields which gets only a $7 million increase in funding. 

Experts in CTE recognize that two-thirds of the new jobs created next year will require a post-secondary degree, which is why it is appalling that the Trump-DeVos 2020 budget would end subsidizing student loans for students in need, cut funding for work-study in half, and end a program that let Ohioans have their student loans forgiven for working public service jobs.

The good news for Butler Tech and its students is that bipartisan majorities in Congress have consistently rejected Trump’s bad budget proposals and will likely do so again this year, so they haven’t ever become a reality.  The bad news is nobody stopped DeVos from ending investigations into the predatory practices of for-profit vocational “schools” that often left students with significant debts and no real meaningful marketable training like the schools had promised.   DeVos even had to be sued to force her to comply with federal law that required her to forgive the student loan debts of students caught up when some of these very schools seemingly closed overnight. These were schools that actively tried to lure potential students away from places like Butler Tech, and DeVos actively protected them and even hired some of their former executives into major positions within the U.S. Department of Education.

“It’s great that we’re recognizing the valuable skills Butler Tech students have learned.  Butler County believes in hiring qualified people, even if the President apparently doesn’t when it comes to his Cabinet. It’s shameful that after years of unsuccessfully pushing to cut funding for education programs and worker retraining while protecting shady, for-profit schools that compete with Butler Tech, Secretary DeVos would come here.  But maybe by doing so she’ll finally recognize why both parties in Congress have rejected her policies.  I hope when she returns to Washington she’ll reverse course and stop pushing to cut worker training programs, cutting Butler Tech’s funding and stop advocating for policies that makes college less affordable for Butler County families,” said Brian Hester, Butler County Democratic Party Executive Committee.