Akron Schools to Turn High Schools Into Careeer Academies

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Governor Kasich wants business people to get involved with local school boards and offer internships to teachers.  Now the superintendent of Akron Public Schools wants to turn all the city’s high schools into “career academies.”  State Impact Ohio’s Mark Urycki reports..


Superintendent David James says pupils at vocational schools in Ohio’s Big 8 urban districts have a higher graduation rate than those who attend regular schools.  He thinks it’s because they see a relationship between their studies and their career.  He wants to connect students to the business world early with schools he calls College and Career Academies. The first one will have two main tracks business technology or health care.  

“If you want to be an engineer we’ll make sure you have some experience with a local engineering firm, that you understand the math, the physics around that.  If you have interest in health care our curriculum can be built around health care so for instance if you’re in English class you may reading an article or report that is health focused versus something else.” 

Several foundations and employers are working with Akron schools.   The CEO of Akron Children’s Hospital Bill Considine says they’re on board for the health care track

"We’re going to have the internships that Superintendent James talked about that will be at Children’s.  We’ll be teaming up our individuals at Children’s with the children within the Akron Public Schools for mentorships.”  

James says these are not vocational schools but just a way for students to connect to their own personal interest with some real world experience.  `

Akron Public School Superintendent David James delivers his State of the Schools address before the Akron Press Club (Urycki ideastream)

In his State of the Schools address today (Wed), James said that in his 55 years of life he has seldom seen so much controversy at the national level.

He said that public school teachers have come under attack but he respects their work. 

As a new Secretary of Education begins in Washington, he had some suggestions for national leaders:  ensure kids have access to Pell grants, and reduce student debt.

“I want all parents to have quality choices whether that choice is traditional public school or a charter school.  I want testing that directly correlates to college and career readiness and removes the stigma of failure in the current ‘high stakes’ system.”

He also had praise for the immigrant and refugee population in Akron.

“We will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, gender identity, or national origin, and students will not be barred from enrolling in the Akron Public Schools on the basis of their citizenship or immigration status or that of their parents or guardians.”

James said the immigrant parents in Akron from Nepal, Afghanistan Congo, and Iraq show up at school, trying to fit in, in hopes of getting a new start. 

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