Entrepreneurship Major Introduced for Secondary Florida Schools

One of the things I appreciated, only after graduating college graduation, was that my school employed professors, who had “real world” experience. I cannot tell you how many times we heard a professor say, “Okay, that’s what the textbook tells you. Now, let me tell you how it works in the real world.”

Textbooks only give students a foundation on which to build later in a real job. Often times, the real world does not follow the procedures set forth in or look/act anything like those models in the textbooks, making it difficult to adjust. You expect one thing in a new job but discover another, feeling lost as to how to proceed.

The Florida Schools in partnership with the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) are introducing some of the “real world” into the Florida schools. Beginning with the 2007-2008 school year, high school students in the Florida schools will be able to sign up for a major course in entrepreneurship at participating schools.

In June 2006, then governor Jeb Bush signed the A++ Education Act, which offers 442 additional major coursework in the Florida schools. The entrepreneurship course is one of these offerings.

The importance of teaching such a course to secondary Florida schools’ students is not lost on businesses that complain across the nation that high school graduates are not prepared to enter today’s workforce upon graduation. The Florida schools’ entrepreneurship course will teach students vital business skills that will benefit the entire community and economy. With business being primarily knowledge-based, knowing how to use technology and employ critical thinking skills are essential for Florida schools’ graduates. As well as providing this training, the new Florida schools’ entrepreneurship course will create a new awareness for the students.

The NFTE was instrumental in the development of the entrepreneurship program for the Florida schools. The group is committed to providing entrepreneurship education to low-income and minority youth. They believe that introducing entrepreneurship to high school students gives them greater motivation to stay in school in order to do more with their life after graduation. Entrepreneurship offers hope and an opportunity for many students, who feel that there is nothing for them after high school except minimum wage jobs. It gives them the knowledge and confidence that they can do more.

The nationwide program of the NFTE has shown that entrepreneurship coursework at the high school level decreases the drop out rate and increases the number of students who go on to college. Their claim has been documented by Harvard Graduate School of Education in a multi-year study on the influence of NFTE coursework on school engagement. The NFTE currently has high school coursework programs in 47 states and 16 countries with over 150,000 courses worldwide, and there are 23 Florida schools within the Miami-Dade County Public School District that already successfully use the entrepreneurship program.

With the signing of the Act in 2006, the Florida schools have become the model for school boards across the nation. Florida schools’ officials have been receiving telephone calls from as far away as Arizona and California. Other states wish to emulate the Florida schools and their new entrepreneurship program to bring the “real world” to their high school students, as well.

Patricia Hawke is a staff writer for Schools K-12, providing free, in-depth reports on all U.S. public and private K-12 schools. Patricia has a nose for research and writes stimulating news and views on school issues. For more information on Florida schools visit www.schoolsk-12.com/florida/index.html

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