Financial Update (Fourth Quarter 2003)



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Summit Charts Course to
Better Economic Education

Earning money is difficult, and spending money is easy — at least that’s what most people think. But spending and investing money wisely are not easy for those unfamiliar with economic and financial concepts. Unfortunately, many of today’s high school graduates lack the knowledge required to make wise financial decisions.

To focus attention on this issue, the Atlanta Fed and the Georgia Council on Economic Education hosted the Georgia Summit on Economic Education in September. Attending the summit were business, civic and education leaders, including State School Superintendent Kathy Cox, University System of Georgia Chancellor Thomas Meredith and Federal Reserve Governor Edward Gramlich. The summit focused on three issues: economic education curriculum, teacher training and program assessment.

William Walstad, a national economic education expert from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, set the tone for the summit by stating “the voices for economic education are far too soft. We need more people saying that economics is just as important as math, science or language arts,” which are required courses.

In the area of curriculum, Cox assured participants that the revisions now under way to Georgia’s Quality Core Curriculum include a strong infusion of economics education from kindergarten through 12th grade.

Meredith recognized that a partnership between Georgia’s university system and the Department of Education is critical to working through the complexities of defining the qualifications for economics teachers. Cox also stressed the importance of identifying ways for teachers to get a better grounding in economics, either through workshops or college-level courses, at no expense to the teacher.

In the area of program assessment, Jeanne Hogarth, an economist at the Federal Reserve Board, said that research shows many disconnects between what people have learned in regard to finance and actual changes in behavior. Behavioral change, she said, should be the ultimate goal of financial education programs.

In closing the conference, Patrick Barron, chief operating officer of the Atlanta Fed, told the audience that a report will be prepared to help put some of the ideas from the conference into action. To focus attention on economic education, Barron also wrote an opinion piece about the conference for an Atlanta business publication.

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