The business behind Business

Helen Chao

R egardless of their passion for business, prospective DECA or FBLA members must take a CTE class (Career/Technical Education) to be eligible for club membership. Freshmen will typically take Principles of Business, an introductory course, and other students may take a Money and Banking or Java class, but there lingers still the underlying question of whether or not the class truly helps with the DECA or FBLA experience.

Junior Urvi Shah is in her second year with FBLA, but is a one-year DECA club member who took Principles of Business freshmen year solely for eligibility in DECA. She believes this reason is applicable to most of her peers, as FBLA and DECA members amounted for almost all of the students in her Principles of Business class and she has noted similar patterns in her friend’s Money & Banking Class. There is a correlation between the class material and her DECA and FBLA activities, but she still considers the class requirement nonessential, citing its lack of significance or direct influence on her overall club experience. The class requirement may discourage prospective DECA and FBLA members who are exclusively interested in club participation.

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Akin to Shah, junior Brandon Ma also has experience with both FBLA and DECA organizations as a current DECA officer and second-year FBLA member. Ma, however, didn’t initially know of DECA or FBLA and simply signed up for Principles of Business out of personal interest. He believes the class requirement is logical and impactful, because it assisted him in both clubs — specifically on the DECA and FBLA multiple choice tests at conventions.

“A lot of [the test] is just memorizing a lot of content or concepts,” Ma said, “and that’s where Principles of Business is really helpful because it does give you an overview of like economics [and] an overview of how things work with the economy.”

He feels sympathetic for those unable to take a business class for whatever reason — resulting in ineligibility for DECA and FBLA — but ultimately believes the class requirement may be a “guard” against the lack of dedication he occasionally observes amongst the organization’s members. Some of the members are attracted to the social aspect of the conventions more so than the competitive essence of the club itself, opting to miss study or coaching sessions. Unfairly, extra time and resources for earnest and serious members are also potentially wasted.

“If people taking business classes right now aren’t very dedicated towards DECA [already] and that’s already like the very baseline requirement,” Ma said, “if we lower the requirement, there is going to be an even larger amount of people that [are] not trying to win [and] they’re just there for their friends.”

Business teacher Carl Schmidt, the advisor for both FBLA and DECA, stresses that the requirement cannot be disregarded regardless of student, parent or even administration complaints.

Funding is directly issued by the state government – uncoincidentally, they are also the originators and supervisors of the class requirement policy. If MVHS were to undermine the requirement, Schmidt believes it unfair to use the state money on the DECA or FBLA members who aren’t enrolled in his business classes, considering the money could be used for districts less fortunate than FUHSD.

In the grand scheme of things, however, Schmidt isn’t trying to limit the ambitious, high-pressure playing field for the students – be them prospective or full-fledged members – but strives to tilt it in their favor.

“If I can give our kids an additional heads up or little bit of a lift, why shouldn’t I do that?” Schmidt said. “Heavens knows they have enough challenges right now competing with everybody else to get there. Makes sense? Okay.”