Updated: Fri, 01/25/2013 - 16:54

Georgia schools boss says educators have ‘given lip service’ to business

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ATLANTA – Superintendent of Schools John Barge said Friday that education officials have traditionally wanted business executives to keep their ideas to themselves.

He said his career pathways initiative is an effort to change that by seeking advice on the 17 career options students pursue during high school.

His comments came during a conference for social-services advocates sponsored by the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, an Atlanta think tank that seeks greater spending for government services like education.

Barge’s initiative established vocational-advisory panels with at least half of the members from businesses to recommend curriculum.

“We’ve had a very difficult time getting that requirement met, and unfortunately, I think, it’s because, over time, we as educators have given lip service to wanting business involvement,” he said. “We have listened, but we don’t do what you say. We have our own thing planned.”

The result of school officials not listening, he said, is the education of students trained for the wrong jobs while thousands of high-paying positions go unfilled.

“The product that we’re producing isn’t matching the need of business and industry,” he said.

Al Hodge, president of the Greater Rome Chamber of Commerce and a former member of the State Board of Education, said Barge is bridging the space between businesses and schools.

“I applaud the superintendant for working to close that gap and to move forward,” said Hodge.

Follow Walter Jones on Twitter @MorrisNews and Facebook or reach him at walter.jones@morris.com and (404) 589-8424.

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