Lakeland College opens Center for Economic Education
General - posted on 9/23/2005
Motivated by the goal of improving economic and financial literacy in the state's K-12 students, Lakeland College is opening a new Center for Economic Education this fall.
This new center is part of a statewide system coordinated by the National Council on Economic Education (www.ncee.net
) and Economics Wisconsin (www.economicswisconsin.org
Lakeland's Center will provide programs for K-12 teachers, giving them the tools they need to educate students about financial matters, increase their awareness of economic issues and improve their understanding of how a market economy functions.
The Center will also write economics and personal finance curriculum for K-12 teachers and run programs for adults and students directly.
Lakeland's Center will be directed by Scott Niederjohn, Lakeland's Charlotte & Walter Kohler Professor of Business and Economics, and James Kudek, associate professor of business administration.
An opening breakfast for business leaders and educators will be held on Sept. 28 on Lakeland's campus to kick off the center.
Niederjohn and Mark Schug, director of the UW-Milwaukee Center for Economic Education, recently co-authored "The State of Economic and Financial Education in Wisconsin Schools," which appeared in the Wisconsin Council for the Social Studies' quarterly magazine.
"Economic and financial education is not emphasized in Wisconsin schools," Niederjohn said. "The study of finance and economics is often left to social studies teachers, who try to squeeze it into the myriad of other topics they need to cover.
"It leaves students graduating uninformed about markets and financial management, lessons which have a practical application for consumers. But there's a bigger public impact when people cannot manage their financial affairs. Money and financial problems in Wisconsin are the No. 1 cause of divorce and a leading cause of suicide."
Niederjohn and Schug co-authored a second article "Have Wisconsin policymakers forgotten their economics?" for Volume 15 of the Wisconsin Interest Journal.
The article points to four state issues, including raising the state's minimum wage, that "indicate the basic rules of supply and demand have not been fully mastered by many of those making important decisions for Wisconsin's future."
Jim Flora, a New Holstein High School teacher who's approaching his 40th year in the classroom, said more teachers need to be recruited and trained to teach economics, and Lakeland's Center will aide this effort.
"New Holstein and other rural school districts in this area are at least 50 miles from a university campus," said Flora, a member of the Economics Wisconsin Board of Directors and recently appointed to the Wisconsin Personal Finance Literacy Task Force.
"Having the resource of someone like Scott and the Lakeland Center nearby will fill a great gap and enhance the learning of our young people. We are lucky to have the kind of commitment that Lakeland has made."
Flora, who has taught economics courses in the former Soviet Union, said support for the expansion of financial literacy is expanding at a critical time in our history.
"Young people today are going to live in a much altered economic environment than their parents," Flora said. "They will have to wisely invest and learn habits of thrift as social security is challenged by many factors.
"Beginning in 2006, one person will turn 60 years old every 7 seconds for the next 18 years. These are the baby boomers, the largest cohort in our population, and many of them do not have sufficient resource to carry them through their retirement years.
"The generation Y cohort is next in size and they have a daunting future financially if they do not have the skills to do this."
Lakeland's Center will also conduct the Wisconsin Stock Market Simulation Game for area high schools. Student teams learn about business and the economy while they compete in managing hypothetical $100,000 investment portfolios.
Among the many things students participating in the SMS program learn are: how business firms are organized, how to choose and buy stocks, how to use the daily newspaper as a source of financial information, how daily events affect our economy, how investment contributes to economic growth and how supply and demand operate in real markets.
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