As CTE (Career and Technical Education) goes through its own repositioning, most of the discussion focuses on STEM and academics. Business and marketing education programs are seldom at the forefront of the dialogue or of the high school reform initiatives.
But we should be!
If our programs are to grow and prosper, we must ask the basic questions implied in the title of this article: Who is our constituency? Who will care if our programs grow or die? Who will advocate on our behalf? Who will benefit from our programs? What are the benefits we promise? Can we deliver on them?
The answer to these and other questions will depend a great deal on how we position our programs. Our positioning – as viewed by others – will be determined primarily by the learning expectations we put forth and by our ability to communicate real value.
As our Consortium leadership has expressed increasing concerns over the future of business and marketing programs in a STEM world, several key strategies have become increasingly apparent. Consider the following as a starting point for repositioning our programs within the context of today’s high school education climate:
- Build strong relationships with the business community
- Implement contemporary, industry-validated curricula and proof of learning
- (Re)Focus on business skills and concepts
- Implement quality management strategies and documentation
- Develop marketing strategies (v. student recruiting and promotion)
None of these is easy, and most will require a coordinated, national approach.
Examples of work being undertaken by the MBA Consortium of states to address these and other issues include:
- Development of the MBA Executive Advisory Network which will provide a vehicle for all local business leaders to participate in a national dialogue regarding standards AND as a national advocacy group to reinforce the critical need for strong business and marketing curricula in our high schools and colleges.
- Development of a new accredited program concept that will allow and support the creation of a national “brand” that can be marketed in much the same way as STEM, arts, music, and other programs.
- Creation of an online learning center that will provide free and low-cost learning opportunities, including support of pre-service baccalaureate and graduate programs.
- Continuing industry research to ensure that the standards and curriculum models of the Consortium truly represent best practice and that they are substantively anchored by extensive business participation.
If these programs and others under development are to have real impact, they will require the full support and participation of a critical mass of business and marketing teachers. To that end, we will continue to report progress via this newsletter. More importantly, we strongly encourage all business and marketing teacher-leaders and administrators to join the discussions. Watch for workshops and discussion sessions at national conferences (e.g., ACTE, Career Cluster Institute, MBA Conclave), and at regional drive-in workshops in the coming year.
--Jim Gleason, PH.D.
President/CEO, MBA Research