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WEST ALLIS, Wis. - Lakeland College formally launched its operation of the Milwaukee Center for Economic Education at a breakfast gathering on Friday, Feb. 5. The center has been improving the quality and quantity of economic and financial education in K-12 school curriculum for over four decades.
The center, which was opened in 1963 by UW-Milwaukee, has been operating out of Lakeland's Milwaukee Center of Adult Education located in West Allis since January. Timothy O'Driscoll, a veteran Milwaukee-area educator, is continuing his role as center director.
Friday's event included a presentation by Milwaukee Public Schools students who shared their experiences in the Youth Enterprise Academy program, a summer day camp where students are taught the principles of personal investing, how our market economy works and how to prepare for college.
O'Driscoll also shared some sobering statistics which underscored the need for the services the center provides to area educators:
"Personal finance and economic education is very void in this country," O'Driscoll said. "It should be required. We make decisions every day about one of our most important commodities - our personal income."
Lakeland took over operation of the center when UW-Milwaukee decided to discontinue its relationship with the Center for Economic Education and EconomicsWisconsin last year.
"When Lakeland sees a need in the community, we're motivated to step in and help," said Scott Niederjohn, director of Lakeland's Center for Economic Education in Sheboygan. "Economic and financial literacy are critical subjects for all students, but the focus on urban youth makes this new Lakeland College-Milwaukee Center for Economic Education particularly distinctive. This center will build on our educational initiatives in Milwaukee."
Over the last three years, the Milwaukee Center has provided nearly 15,000 teachers the tools to teach thousands of Milwaukee-area students financial literacy and economic understanding.
"The multiplier effect is enormous," said O'Driscoll, past president of the Global Association of Teachers of Economics and a member of the Board of Directors of Economics Wisconsin. "Working directly with teachers is far more effective than working with individual students or schools.
"We can reach thousands of students who come from low socio-economic environments and empower them with basic financial education. Our research has shown that, regardless of your background, if you're taught this material, you can learn this material."
Lakeland will continue the center's rich programming, including:
Without question, one of the strengths of the Milwaukee Center is O'Driscoll, a passionate, inspiring educator who taught for 36 years at Arrowhead High School in Hartland. He was selected to serve on the planning committee to create a national test on economic literacy for NAEP, and he was a writer and editor for the NAEP National Macroeconomics Test.
Outside of education, O'Driscoll has served as the Official Scorer for the Milwaukee Brewers for 25 years, and he has served the past few years as supervisor for all official scorers in major league baseball. He has also been the varsity baseball coach at Arrowhead High School for the past 32 years, and is the state's all-time wins leader.
Lakeland opened its first center at its main campus in Sheboygan County in 2005. It provides financial literacy and other services to teachers throughout the northeastern part of the state, including an annual workshop at Lambeau Field.