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New Hospitality & Tourism Academy at GRPS fits with the business community’s emphasis on developing workforce talent in West MI

November 25, 2019

Below is a video statement from the group Grand Rapids for Education Justice (GREJ) that addresses one of the new GRPS Academies, specifically the Hospitality & Tourism Academy.

By submitting a FOIA, the GREJ was able to obtain an overview of the Hospitality & Tourism class that will be offered through the Grand Rapids Public Schools. You can go to this link to read the overview of the class, as well as objectives and learning outcomes. 

This is just one of the Academies that the GRPS is offering, along with media and one that will introduce students to law enforcement and the military.

These types of courses are being crafted to fill, what those in the Neo-Liberal Education model refer to as “the talent gap.” In recent years there has been a much bigger push within the business community to try to influence and work with the education system to provide information and training to students that will provide employers with a larger pool of workers to fill positions in various industries.

There are numerous business groups that have been working with the Grand Rapids Public Schools to introduce and develop more and more classes that prepare students to enter the workforce. There are groups like Talent 2025, which is made up of CEOs from West Michigan who are wanting to till the talent gap. 

There is also the West Michigan Policy Forum, a group that is made up the most influential and powerful business and business leaders in the area. They push for state policy changes on many areas and one of those areas is education reform or as they say Talent. The West Michigan Policy Forum wants to

• Encourage the development of consistent K-12 and higher education metrics

• Expansion of college credits for work experience

• Require funding for state economic development and workforce agencies to align more closely with private sector efforts in talent development initiative

• Reform of Teacher Evaluation

Another group is Believe 2 Become, which was created by funding from the Doug & Maria DeVos Foundation. Believe 2 Become produced a report in 2017 called, Workforce Opportunity in West Michigan: Connecting A Qualified Workforce to High-Growth Opportunities

The video statement from GREJ challenges the notion that students are merely talent and that education should first and foremost provide students with robust critical thinking skills, as well as how to be civically engaged in the world.

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