MSDE cuts DECA, Whitman DECA members frustrated


Whitman has been successful at national DECA conferences in the past. Right now, Whitman DECA isn’t allowed to attend conferences and competitions because the Maryland State Department of Education doesn’t charter DECA.

By Ben Stricker

The Maryland State Department of Education informed Maryland DECA last spring, without any advanced warning, that they will no longer charter the club beginning this school year. This is the first time in around 60 years that the state hasn’t funded DECA.

Recently, MSDE announced that they wouldn’t release the Maryland DECA charter, meaning that schools in Maryland aren’t authorized to attend DECA affiliated conferences and competitions.

The MSDE wants all Maryland DECA schools and their 2,000 DECA members to join the Future Business Leaders of America, another national school business club similar to DECA. They likely made this decision in an effort to streamline the number of school business clubs in Maryland to just one, Board of Maryland DECA member Demitra Marafatsos said. 

“It doesn’t make any sense to me,” Marafatsos said. “To give students more opportunities, it’s good to have two business clubs. And DECA is more about marketing and entrepreneurship, which is what the world is all about.”

Whitman DECA is against joining the FBLA because of the “inconsiderate” manner in which the MSDE informed schools, and because FBLA national competitions take place over the summer, when Whitman students are traveling and have other commitments, Marafatsos said.

Whitman DECA leaders are planning on contacting Maryland Senator Susan Lee, delegates Ariana Kelly and Marc Koman, and DECA Inc. officials to put additional pressure on the MSDE. They’re planning a campaign where members of the Maryland DECA community will call or send emails to their local congressional offices. Additionally, they’ll send a letter to the Whitman community via Whitnet in the near future. 

Whitman DECA is also joining Richard Montgomery, Blair and Churchill DECA members to fight against MSDE’s decision and to garner community support for DECA. Whitman DECA leaders will meet with principal Robert Dodd today to convince him and MCPS Superintendent Jack Smith to promote MSDE chartering DECA.

“DECA has given me so much, and to take it away would be awful,” Whitman DECA co-president Nathaniel Zitner said. “It has taught me to come up with solutions to complex problems on the spot and has introduced me to the world of business.” 

If their plans don’t work, Whitman DECA will try to receive a charter from the University of Maryland. Regardless, they’ll continue having business meetings after school.

“Kids like Nathaniel have been doing DECA since freshman year,” Marafatsos said. “Is it fair to them, senior year, to say, ‘Oh, you’re out of DECA?’ Absolutely not.”