Undergraduate programs are cutting business education teacher preparation programs. Departments don’t have a supervisor with a business education background. At the same time, business is the most popular major in the country. The eastern region has some of the best institutes of higher education, along with global financial powerhouses and industry hubs from New York City, to Philadelphia, to Boston. Yet, teachers report their programs are shrinking. Why the disconnect?
I attended Pennsbury High School, located in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, an hour outside of Philadelphia. I was the business department’s biggest fan. I took every course I could get my hands on in four years: Introduction to Business, Accounting 1, Accounting 2, Business Law, Sports and Entertainment Marketing, Investment Management, and Microsoft Office Applications. I found out I loved business and could make a career out of it. I was a high achiever in the business department and FBLA, inside of a school of 3,400 students, where I otherwise felt caught in the shuffle.
Deciding a major was challenging. I learned Rider University, in central New Jersey, offered a ‘Business Education’ major. I never thought about teaching as a career choice. One meeting with my advisor, Dr. Michael Curran, changed my perception and set me on the path to where I am today.
However, as I advanced in my program, I realized most students don’t get to experience the world of business education on such a large scale. I took seven business classes in high school, and people at my college were both A) surprised there were any business classes at all in high school (including the business majors!) and B) shocked to find out that our own school, Rider University, offered a major in this ‘foreign concept’ of ‘Business Education.’ In fact, when I would tell students and adults my major, most everyone would assume I was simply studying business administration. When I explained it was to become a certified business teacher, people would respond by saying, “Oh, you can teach that? I had no idea. My school didn’t have those courses.” Not that they knew of, at least.
I had the opposite experience. It was in college where I learned that not every high school offers as many business classes. It was in college where I learned history departments can teach AP Economics. It was in college where I learned that my region, the Eastern Business Education Association, was a defunct and inactive part of the National Business Education Association. The state of business education did not look healthy. What’s the diagnosis?
I finally decided to reach out to the profession to find out. In May 2018, I conducted a survey on our profession. The State of Business Education survey is still live today and is now my way of staying in touch with other business educators in Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
If you never added your voice to the State of Business Education Survey, go to bit.ly/stateofbusedu.
In one week, 180 business educators in the region shared their concerns. Business education, in many parts of the region, is endangered or at risk.
After just two months, over 400 business educators had read the report. If you have not yet, take a moment to view the results.
Based on the feedback received by teachers in the survey, I identified three initial goals to help teachers and our profession:
- Get more teachers involved in the conversation
- Find an efficient way to share ideas
- Create strategies & build support to tackle our biggest challenges
To that end, in June of 2018, I recruited 13 other teachers from the region to help discuss and implement ideas around program growth and professional development. This guide is one of the products and outcomes of the collaboration between business educators passionate about making an impact.
In just two months, we have published our 2nd report: Enrollment Trends in Business Education and created a ‘Summer of Business Education’ online professional development series, with sessions focused on the most requested sessions from teachers including social media marketing, investing, and offering college credit courses.
Our efforts are school by school, teacher by teacher. If we expect to keep our profession healthy, we, as teachers, need to make an effort to advocate for our profession, get connected, and make a difference. We teach our students some of the most important things they will learn. Let’s keep moving forward.
Please enjoy the guide: http://bit.ly/
About the blogger: Alex Lamon is a high school business educator in New Jersey. His main goal is to connect students to the world of business, economics, and their financial future. He uses the most engaging methods possible so students become passionate about their own learning. Alex currently teaches AP Economics, College Prep Economics, Financial Literacy and Introduction to Business. Connect with him on Twitter @alexmlamon or at alexlamon.com.