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According to a 2009 study of the Council for Economic Education, only 21 states require students to enroll in an Economics class, 13 states require students to study Personal Finance and 5 states require student enrollment in an Entrepreneurship class. These numbers are unfortunate because today, financial, economic, entrepreneurial and business literacy are required for people to function in the economy.
Businesses are the lifeblood of the American economy and if there are more businesses, chances are the economy will flourish. But with the lack of focus in promoting literacy in this area, students just become employees rather than business administrators or managers. So how can K-12 schools create managers and not just workers?
K-12 schools should require students to take at least one class in Economics and have the curriculum of that class include Business. It doesn't matter whether their state requires it or not. If it cannot be handled within their budget constraints, they should at least encourage students to enroll in elective Business courses. Students of these elective courses can participate by holding fairs where they sell products as simple as lemonade juice to whatever products they can think of. They can contact business owners to hold talks regarding entrepreneurship and business management. K-12 schools can also look for business owners themselves. Their list of alumni might include the owners and managers of the most successful businesses in their area.
Starting a National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship or NFTE program is another answer to "How can K-12 schools create managers and not just workers?" especially for schools with students from low-income communities. Students from low-income communities find it difficult to stay in school because they have many financial problems at home. They also believe that they don't need an education to earn, they just have to work.
NFTE changes these perspectives and inspires students to continue with their schooling, as well as plan not just to become employees but entrepreneurs. Partners of NFTE have the advantage of sending their teachers to NFTE University, where the teachers are trained to teach students how to be entrepreneurs. Support for teachers continues outside NFTE University and is provided to teachers while they are instructing students in business. The foundation recognizes that anyone can be an entrepreneur that you don't have to be exceptionally intelligent just to become one. So the NFTE program doesn't just teach students how to build their own businesses, it also teaches students to gain self-confidence.
Those who went through and graduated from the program have gone on to start their own businesses. An example is Abby Lewis of Derby, Kansas. While in school, she developed a nail polish applicator that has the appearance of a marker. Her product piqued the interest major cosmetic companies and is soon to get a patent.
Is there any other way to answer "How can K-12 schools create managers and not just workers?" There are summer programs in business conducted by top universities' business departments across the nation like University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business and Duke University's Fuqua School of Business. The Leadership Education and Development or LEAD Summer Business Institutes compose just a few of them.
Students chosen by these institutes get to stay and go to class on-campus in prestigious universities, so it gives them a preview of university life apart from teaching them about business. They also get the advantage of adding the program to their list of achievements for their college applications. LEAD Summer Business Institutes accept only high-achieving high school juniors. Hence, if K-12 schools promote applications for them, students who want to get into business and into those particular schools will want to work doubly hard on their studies. Promoting summer business programs and their benefits also makes students understand how managing businesses might be a potentially great career for them to consider.
How can K-12 schools create managers and not just workers? You probably have all the answers by now. If you are a school administrator, just follow the above tips and you'll get your school in the right direction. By doing these, maybe one of your alumni will become the owner of a Fortune 500 company one day and will come back to your school thanking you for it.