Exclusive: U.S. Education Secretary DeVos coming to Butler County this week

The leader of America’s public education is coming to Butler Tech.

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos will tour the Butler County career school system Friday and take part in a signing ceremony for high school seniors who have already landed jobs before being handed their diplomas, the Journal-News has exclusively learned.

It will be the first time the nation’s top education official has come to Butler Tech.

“We are excited that Education Secretary DeVos is joining us to celebrate our students who have obtained certifications and a set of skills through apprenticeships with local businesses,” said Butler Tech Superintendent Jon Graft.

“The businesses who are offering students jobs (Friday) are getting smart and dedicated employees. Butler Tech is grateful for the recognition of these students’ accomplishments by Secretary DeVos and the U.S. Department of Education.

DeVos will also speak at Butler Tech’s first signing ceremony, modeled after popular events at which high school athletes publicly announce where they will attend college.

The participating Butler Tech students in Friday’s event will also be sporting hats featuring their new companies while signing employment contracts with 28 area industries and companies hiring them weeks before graduating from the career school.

Butler Tech is one of Ohio’s largest career school systems serving more than 16,600 high school and adult students in a wide variety job-training and certification programs covering dozens of industries.

The school system has drawn increasing national attention for its aggressive strategy of working closely with private industries to modernize its programs to better serve as a supplier of trained and certified teens and young adults ready to work and pursue careers.

MORE: A 1st: Butler Tech teaching program going national after winning funding grant

Local and national concerns in recent years about America’s “skills gap” prompted a visit in February by U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-Cincinnati) to meet with Butler Tech and other career school and industry officials in February.

Portman has frequently praised Butler Tech’s modernization.

“We have a skills gap (and) Ohio employers are struggling to find people with the skills to fill open jobs,” Portman has said.

Though news media will be invited, the Friday visit and signing ceremony by DeVos to Butler Tech’s main campus in Fairfield Township will be closed to the public.

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