Once is Not Enough—Together, Yes We Can

April 23 Once is Not Enough—Together, Yes We CanBy Helen Roberts, Clinical Professor in Economics at UIC and Director, UIC Center for Economic Education

Practice Makes Perfect

How can our children learn the necessary skills and knowledge to be financially literate? Like reading and driving and other important life skills, one try, one course, one time is not enough to be proficient.

To learn to drive a car, students must learn the rules of the road. To drive their financial lives, students need to learn the rules of good financial life, such the importance of saving, budgeting, and protecting their money. Just as reading about driving is not enough, students need to practice as they go.

Plan the Journey

What does it mean for schools to take financial literacy seriously? In the Chicago Public Schools, the several departments (such as math, social studies, counseling, literacy) and outside partners are cooperatively developing a financial literacy curriculum guide with links to resources for teachers for every grade from Kindergarten through High School. The guide will be the road map. Children do not become literate in reading in one short course. They also need well-designed and age-appropriate curriculum, including repeated practice, to become literate about the financial economy. They need to start at an early age and to deepen their understanding of the financial world as they grow and develop. Parents are crucial at every step—living examples and frequent opportunities to practice making good financial decision, reinforcing good financial decisions like saving for desired toys and activities.

A financial literacy curriculum guide recognizes that even young children are constructing their world and are taking action in it. Kindergartners trade with each other, make choices, and perform many other economic activities. They love to see how understanding the rules and identifying their costs (including opportunity costs) can improve their choices.  As children grow, their choices and horizons broaden. As they progress through the grades they learn about choices and opportunities for families, communities and countries, about earning income, saving, credit, investing, and protecting and insuring.  Financial literacy is so much more than just budgeting and banking!  Students build understanding through the grade levels. The guide will give teachers lessons that both teach how the world works and age-appropriate just-in-time financial applications for grade. Teachers can choose from a menu of activities and lessons to fit their students’ interests and needs.

Teachers as a group often do not feel prepared to teach financial literacy topics, let alone economics topics as well. Along with the course design and financial literacy curriculum guide, many entities are working together to provide. Professional development for teachers new to economics and financial literacy. Both outside partners and teachers previously trained and experienced with implementing these lessons with Chicago Public Schools children help to prepare teachers new to the capstone course and the curriculum guide.

What does ‘financially literate’ really mean?

The culmination is a 12th-grade capstone financial literacy course, which this semester is being taught for the 3rd time. In this course, students learn how the economic way of thinking and making decisions work, supply, demand, and government interact—how the economics of the world they are about to enter works. They study career choice and preparation, getting jobs, and entrepreneurship. It is exciting to hear their plans for the future! They learn how to protect and invest their savings, when to borrow and when not, and what questions to ask at each stage in their lives. Finally, they learn about consumer protection and insurance. The world is risky, so which risks should I insure against?  Again, not worksheets but real problems and practical answers. How to properly fill out a job application, and where to be suspicious when a fast-talking market guru puts on the hard sell.

Signs of progress

The early results from Chicago are encouraging. The financial literacy curriculum guide is nearing completion. The capstone course has been taught several semesters. Teachers and students like the course—it is relevant and fun. Students’ confidence in their decision making, career choices, and risk management rises after the course. Teachers report that students request the Econoland Game: Please, let’s play it again! On learning that by NOT saving, they give up interest they could have earned, they choose to save. We look forward to better financial choices in the future!

POSTED: April 23, 2014 | BY: Annamarie Cerreta | TAGS: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Advocating Financial Literacy

April 15 199x300 Advocating Financial LiteracyBy Congressman Ruben Hinojosa, 15th District of Texas

I am proud to be Co-Chair and Co-Founder of the Financial and Economic Literacy Caucus (FELC) in the U.S. House of Representatives. In 2005, former Congresswoman Judy Biggert and I joined forces to found the first Congressional caucus devoted to furthering financial literacy for all Americans. Over the years, FELC has supported legislation, hosted briefings, and engaged federal agencies on promoting financial literacy at all levels of policy. I am happy to have Congressman Steve Stivers of Ohio, as the new Co-Chair for our Caucus. We share a belief in the power of financial literacy to decrease inequality and increase financial stability and hope for one’s future. Read more…

POSTED: April 15, 2014 | BY: Annamarie Cerreta | TAGS: , , , , , , ,

Advocating for Our Children’s Future

April 8 200x300 Advocating for Our Children’s Future

By David Nelms, Chairman & CEO of Discover Financial Services

Financial education in school, coupled with regular money discussions at home, is necessary to help students become knowledgeable about money, establish good financial habits and avoid the economic pitfalls that can derail them from achieving their goals. As parents, teachers and community and business leaders, we are accountable for providing young people with access to academic instruction and life skills training. When we fail to do so, we deprive them of the knowledge they need to make good financial decisions that have lasting implications to their futures. Read more…

POSTED: April 8, 2014 | BY: Annamarie Cerreta | TAGS: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tune in NOW for the 13th Annual National Economics Challenge!

We’re broadcasting live from Tisch WNET Studios at Lincoln Center for the 13th Annual National Economics Challenge!

Watch the Quiz Bowl Finals in the David Ricardo and Adam Smith Divisions.


Click here to watch the Quiz Bowl Finals!



Follow the Council for Economic Education on Twitter @council4econed. Get in on the action by using the hashtag #CEE to root for your team and share your thoughts as the quiz bowl unfolds.


Learn more about our amazing Finalist teams! Watch their video portraits that convey who they are as economics scholars, and vote once per day for your favorite video. The team with the most votes will receive a $100 Amazon gift certificate for their school and a $25 iTunes gift card for each student from the team.

Voting ends May 21 at 11:59 pm ET. Video contest has no influence on National Economics Challenge judging.

skyline banner Tune in NOW for the 13th Annual National Economics Challenge!

POSTED: May 19, 2013 | BY: Leslie Rasimas | TAGS: , , , , , , ,

Cocktail Party Advice: Never an Economist and Always an Advocate for K-12 Personal Financial Education

Andrew Hill1 225x300 Cocktail Party Advice: Never an Economist and Always an Advocate for K 12 Personal Financial EducationBy Andrew Hill, Economic Education Advisor at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia; and Adjunct Professor of Economics at Temple University.

Cocktail party conversation can often be difficult for even the most adept conversationalists among us. When meeting new people, an unavoidable topic is always what you do for a living. I was trained in graduate school to expect people to respond in unpredictable ways when I explain that I am an economist. Read more…

POSTED: April 30, 2013 | BY: Leslie Rasimas | TAGS: , , , , , , , , ,

The Case for K-12 Financial Education from Take Charge America’s Michael Staten

michael staten The Case for K 12 Financial Education from Take Charge Americas Michael StatenBy Michael Staten, Take Charge America Endowed Chair; Director, Take Charge America Institute, University of Arizona.

Kudos to CEE for devoting their blog space this month to many different voices making the case for financial education. I share the dilemma of every end-of-program speaker struggling to find something new to say. So, in these waning days of Financial Literacy Month, let me offer a few additional thoughts in support of school-based financial education for grades K-12.

Research has shown that the largest single determinant of money attitudes in teenagers and young adults is their parents, and the home environment in which they grow up.  But, that influence can be positive or negative. If we treat financial education as solely the responsibility of parents, then we admit that young people will not start their adult lives on a level playing field. Read more…

POSTED: April 25, 2013 | BY: Leslie Rasimas | TAGS: , , , , ,


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