Summit Offers Ideas for Economic and Financial Education in Georgia

For immediate release: Sept. 4, 2003

ATLANTA–The debate over what Georgia children should learn about economics and finance took center stage today at a conference of key state education and business leaders, including State School Superintendent Kathy Cox, University System of Georgia Chancellor Thomas C. Meredith and Bank of America Georgia President Eugene J. Godbold Jr. The Georgia Summit on Economic and Financial Education was sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta and the Georgia Council on Economic Education.

Georgia is one of 14 states requiring students to pass a high school course in economics, but many participants at the summit said that much more is needed to prepare students for the realities of being workers and consumers in today’s complex financial world. While other subjects have curricula that build skills from the earliest grades, the path for economic and financial education is less clear, said William B. Walstad, a national economic education expert. “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,” he said.

At the summit, participants provided solutions to help close gaps they identified in the state’s financial and economic education curriculum, teacher training in economics and assessment of school and adult education programs.

  • Curriculum: State School Superintendent Kathy Cox assured participants that the revisions to the Quality Core Curriculum now under way would include a very strong infusion of economics education from kindergarten through 12th grade. Other participants, including Hilary Hunt of the national Jump$tart Coalition, called for an equally purposeful integration of personal finance into the state’s curriculum.
  • Teacher Training: University System of Georgia Chancellor Thomas C. Meredith recognized that a partnership between the state’s university system and department of education is critical to work through the complexities of defining the qualifications for economics teachers. Cox also stressed that it is important to identify ways for teachers to get a better grounding in economics, either through workshops or college-level courses, at no expense to the teacher.
  • Program Assessment: In the area of personal financial education for adults, Jeanne M. 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, according to Hogarth, should be the ultimate goal of financial education programs. For example, a Federal Reserve study found that, although 81 percent of people know about their credit report, only 58 percent actually request and review it.

The Atlanta Fed and the Georgia Council on Economic Education will develop a report on the conference, said Patrick K. Barron, the Atlanta Fed’s first vice president and chief operating officer. A work group will then be commissioned to carry forward the report’s recommendations.

As part of the nation’s central banking system, the Atlanta Fed participates in setting national monetary policy, supervises numerous commercial banks and provides a variety of financial services to depository institutions and the U.S. government. The Georgia Council on Economic Education helps teachers teach economics in the public and independent schools of Georgia.


Conference program and participant biographies

Contact: Jean Tate 404-498-8035