With the start of 2009, the United States has seen changes in leadership, economic status, and policy. One thing that remains the same is the focus on improving the education received by children in every state. Texas places education at the top of its list of priorities, setting high standards that encourage teachers to present challenging topics to their classes and ensure that learning takes place. This year, a faculty representative from Mays Business School at Texas A&M University will help set the standards for Texas education, and will impact national curriculum decisions.

Lawrence Wolken

Lawrence Wolken, a clinical professor in the Mays finance department, was recently appointed to the State Board of Education’s Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) review committee for social studies. Wolken joined the high school economics committee in Austin earlier this month to make recommendations concerning the basic economic and personal financial literary concepts that must be covered in the economics course taken by every high school student in Texas. The committee also reviewed the economics components included in other high school social studies courses.

According to Wolken, the TEKS high school committees will meet in April with the K-8 committees to coordinate the building aspect of the learning process through the entire 12-year education experience. Wolken and other committee members will work with K-8 groups at each grade level on the economic strand of their social studies curriculum, and the recommendations that they make will be presented to the State Board of Education next fall. “The TEKS the board adopts will influence the course content of K-12 social studies textbooks used not only in Texas but also nationally,” says Wolken.

“Looking to the future, the TEKS will determine what millions of future Texas residents and leaders will learn about economics/finance/business while attending the state’s K-12 public schools,” he said. “For those who do not continue on to college, this will likely be all they learn about these important subjects. That is an important responsibility that weighs on the mind of each member of the committee.”

Wolken’s appointment to this important committee is due not only to his extensive knowledge in economics and finance, but also to his many years of work with K-12 social studies teachers and students. Wolken’s work has received national attention thanks to the development of his Scholastic Assistance for Global Education (SAGE) program, which works with the Center for International Business Studies at Mays to provide resources that enrich classroom discussions at all grade levels.