Officials from the German Consulate’s office in Atlanta and the German American Chamber of Commerce were in Chattanooga on Thursday to discuss ways to improve area public schools and build better relationships between German businesses and local officials.
Dr. Lutz Gorgens, the Consul General in Atlanta, said he earlier met on Tuesday with Hamilton County Mayor Claude Ramsey and School Superintendent Jim Scales to discuss ways area schools could improve and benefit German children who may be relocating here because of the Volkswagen plant’s coming to Enterprise South.
He said there is a shortage of courses in European languages, particularly German, taught in high school and middle schools, not just in Chattanooga, but across the United States.
“They neglect that Germany is the strongest business investment partner here,” Dr. Gorgens said. “There is a lack of realization on the part of the parents how big this business is.”
German in Schools
Below are Hamilton County public schools that offer German:
* Ooltewah High School
Central High School
Center for Creative Arts
Middle College High School at Chattanooga State
Source: Hamilton County Schools officials
Dr. Gorgens also said more emphasis needs to be placed in schools on technical training.
Mayor Ramsey called the meeting a “two-edged approach.”
“We were asking about the needs of the children relocating here and what companies will be looking for,” he said.
He said the discussions, particularly with regard to education, were very general and did not get into specific changes local schools need to make.
Kristian Wolf, chief executive and president of the German American Chamber of Commerce of the Southern U.S., said the Southeastern U.S. offers the quality of life and many of the amenities that German companies are looking for.
“This is the region manufacturing companies are looking to locate,” he said.
That is why Dr. Gorgens emphasized a need for state-of-the-art technical training.
“They need to be able to work on machines that are at the top of the technical edge,” he said.
Dr. Gorgens said that university-level curriculum is very good, but middle and high schools could use a boost.
“The school systems are very different,” he said. “But I feel that the authorities here take this seriously and can handle the situation.”
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