Today, America finds itself in an economic slowdown with uncertain markets, rising unemployment rates and big government bailouts. This has created a unique opportunity for us to not only examine what makes Wall Street strong, but more importantly to understand what makes Main Street strong. Small businesses across the country created by passionate entrepreneurs are essential in minimizing the effects of a recession and offer a variety of jobs in times of economic uncertainty to both the founders themselves and to their employees.

Moreover, small businesses lead to inventions and technological innovations as proven by the advent of the airplane and the artificial heart valve, support their local communities through volunteerism and charity and may eventually grow into larger companies that offer even more jobs to their communities. With a new administration in Washington and new policies on the horizon, now is the time to get serious about promoting and strengthening small businesses in America. The best way to foster an entrepreneurial spirit is to introduce entrepreneurship education in the classroom.

It is the responsibility of our public school systems to expose students to a variety of disciplines and fields of study in order to make students well-rounded, provide them with greater opportunity and prepare them for the future. Entrepreneurship is one of the greatest outlets for creativity. Launching a business reinforces important qualities such as personal responsibility and time management, and it increases one’s self-confidence.

Unfortunately, too few high school students understand the exciting possibilities of entrepreneurship simply because they have never been introduced to the concept. They don’t realize the power they hold as individuals to transform an idea or passion into a profitable endeavor, even at a young age. By introducing this idea to students through our public schools, we can strengthen our educational system as well as our economy.
New York state, with some of the most rigorous academic standards in the nation, requires courses in art, health, music and foreign language in order to graduate high school, yet not one course is required in business or entrepreneurship. How can we expect more students to grow into ambitious entrepreneurs who found their own companies and create jobs when they have not even received the simple education to do so?

Required curriculum to introduce the basics of entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship to our high school students is long overdue. While changes to education are best at the local level, national and state leaders should be strongly promoting this concept.

We are now faced with an unique opportunity to harness the power of our public school systems and use it to strengthen the future foundations of our economy by encouraging the development of small businesses. If we choose to act boldly, we can re-energize the spirit of opportunity and innovation in America and create the beginning of the next ‘greatest generation.”

Meyer is a member of
the class of 2012.

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