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'Career clusters' to break separation of academic and vocational
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State Superintendent John Barge outlines the draft career clusters. - photo by Michelle Kim

IN BRIEF: More than 350 educators and business and industry representatives from around the state gathered at the Rockdale Career Academy for the kickoff and breakout sessions on the new "career clusters" initiative rolling out next school year.

State Superintendent Dr. John Barge likened sending off the initiative, a career focused reorganization and planning tool for high school students, to having a baby. "This idea was conceived nine years ago. Imagine being in labor for nine years."

He said the initiative aimed to bring together the worlds of the academic, college-prep approach and the vocational approach. "We can no longer have these two worlds" separate, he said. "If we continue to educate our children the same way we did 50, 60 years ago and expect them to be prepared... we're crazy. We need to change the way we educate our children or we won't survive."

He said there was a disconnect between what businesses and industries valued in gradates and what educators valued in graduates. "Most of us (educators) have never been in the real world," he said.

 He outlined a Harvard study that stressed the value of post-high school options other than a four year degree, such as licensing, trade schools, and two-year associates degrees. The study also looked at what educational requirements were in the top growth jobs, which had a broad range.

"We cannot continue to churn out young people with no aspirations and no clue of what they're going to do."

The 17 career clusters he showed was the national outline, but he urged attendees, in their breakout groups, to think outside the national box and shape clusters for Georgia specifically. 

The 17 clusters shown were: Agriculture/food/natural resources, architecture and construction, arts/audio-video/communications, business management and administration, education and training, finance, health sciences, hospitality/tourism, human services, information technology, law/public safety/security, manufacturing, government and public administration, marketing/sales/service, science/technology/engineering/mathematics, transportation/distribution/logistics.

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