The influence of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce on policies of the State Department of Education as related to economics education, 1959-1981
This study was designed to allow accurate description of the influence of the State Chamber of Commerce on policies and curriculum publications of the Virginia Department of Education related to economics education. The methodology allowed collection of data from the complex environment that shapes the influence process. Using strategies from historiography and ethnography, data were collected through interviews with a number of persons associated with State Chamber activities and educational governance at the state level. Document search served to guide interviews, to verify data, and to provide additional details.
Beginning in 1959, the business community showed a marked interest in economics education. Subsequently, the State Board of Education adopted a policy statement prescribing a plan for systematic improvement in instruction in this area. Interest in this program became a priority with the Education Committee of the State Chamber of Commerce. Through close interaction with the Superintendent of Public Instruction and effective institutionalization of Chamber members on the State Board of Education and on committees appointed to review economics programs, the organization was able to directly influence economics programs and publications emanating from the Department of Education in the period 1959-1974. Since 1974, the State Chamber of Commerce has remained an influential voice in programs designed by the Department, and staff members from the educational bureaucracy have given assistance to Chamber efforts in this area. However, in this latter period, assessment of influence on economics education is more difficult. Neither the Chamber nor the Department of Education have delineated consistent new goals for economics education, and findings are further confounded by the fact that new agents such as the General Assembly and the Virginia Council for Economics Education have demonstrated strong interest in the topic.
In summary, the Chamber did influence the timing and the substance of economics publications and policies during the period 1959-1974. More recent influence appears to be indicated, but cannot be clearly identified.