Letter from the Chairman and President:
We are pleased to report on the achievements of the Foundation for Teaching Economics in 2016.
FTE is always exploring new and better methods to teach economics to more high school students and our newest program, Immersion into Economics, was a big winner in 2016. We tested this new format, 100 students for one day, with more than 350 students attending one day programs in three locations. Feedback from the students and their teachers was so favorable that we are planning to offer many more of the 100 student one day programs in 2017.
Our new Immersion into Economics program is just the opener in a very positive report. In the pages that follow, you will see how FTE is accomplishing its mission and influencing how economics is taught in our nation’s high schools. More importantly, FTE has been broadening its reach through strategic partnerships and cooperative programming – in 2016, those efforts led to 722 high school teachers and 843 high school students attending FTE programs where they learned basic economic principles and the benefits produced by free markets. Our online Annual Report has in-depth descriptions of every aspect of FTE, including audited financial statements.
The need for FTE’s programs has never been greater. Economic literacy among young people is so low that it is no surprise a socialist candidate for president attracted widespread support. According to the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, only thee percent of colleges and universities require students to take an economics course. That is one reason among many we focus on teaching economics at the high school level.
The Foundation for Teaching Economics has been training teachers to teach high school economics for 40 years, and our comparative advantage is lesson plans that emphasize an “economic way of thinking.” FTE’s goal is to help students understand how economic principles are applicable to everyday life. Our lessons are designed to develop critial thinking skills based on knowledge that every decision in life involves an opportunity cost, that markets are fundamentally about social cooperation, and that incentives play a decisive role in influencing behavior. FTE makes the study of economics fun and relevant for high school students through activity based lessons.
Based on the advice of Dr. Milton Friedman many years ago, our Economics for Leaders programs focus on educating high school students who demonstrate leadership potential as a way to impact public policy over the long term. Our programs have produced over 10,000 alumni, all of whom learned about the institutional framework necessary to foster a vibrant free enterprise system. our partnership with The Fund for American Studies (TFAS) opens the way for FTE student alumni to take advantage of continuing education opportunities offered by TFAS at the collegiate level.
Freedom, individual responsibility, and free markets define the essence of the American political tradition, and the curriculum of every professional development program we conduct for high school teachers and every Economics for Leaders program for students is built around a core set of economic principles that support those concepts.
FTE has been successful because its programs are based upon a solid academic foundation and because annual assessments drill down into every aspect of our programs’ weaknesses and strengths. FTE’s 2016 Independent Evaluation, which is summarized in this report and posted on the FTE website, shows that our programs have an immediate impact. Participants routinely report that “Economics for Leaders changed my whole outlook on how the world works.” It’s clear that FTE is changing lives in a most positive way.
As we enter into 2017, FTE faces the challenge of broadening its reach at the same time we come to the end of a revenue stream from an endowment established by Jack Hume, founder of FTE. The spend-down of the Hume endowment has been by design, but going forward FTE will be dependent more than ever on the generosity of those who understand the importance of teaching economics in high school. As you will see in this report, FTE is excelling in that endeavor.
We wish to thank those whose contributions make FTE’s programs possible. We can assure you that we have a strong management team dedicated to making the most efficient use of donors’ funds. We are endeavoring to be “the best philanthropic investment you can make” in support of programs that are critical to the future of our Republic.
Roger R. Ream Frank T. Lauinger