Ann A. Berry | 7/29/2005 2:41:33 AM
John Turner came to Baton Rouge from the New Orleans area to learn how to get involved in teaching youth financial literacy.
The soon-to-retire federal employee saw a newspaper article about the Louisiana Youth Financial Educators’ Summit and paid his own expenses to attend.
Turner joined about 100 Louisiana school teachers and others who work with youth Wednesday and Thursday (July 27-28) to learn more about teaching financial literacy, especially to the state’s youth.
"I’m impressed with the conference," Turner said. "I didn’t know this was here – that the infrastructure is in place."
Turner said he had organized federal employees to volunteer in New Orleans schools to help teach financial literacy and wants to get involved with young people when he retires.
"I will definitely be involved," he said. "And I can’t wait to get started."
The conference was designed to provide information about new developments in literacy education to Louisiana high school teachers and others who work with youth, said Dr. Jeanette Tucker, a family economics specialist with the LSU AgCenter.
Teaching high school students financial literacy is important for many reasons, according to Ken Uffman, president of the Louisiana Jump$tart Coalition, which sponsored the event.
Uffman said Louisiana high school students were tested about finances in 2002 and 2004. On the multiple-choice test graded on a scale of 0-100, the average score in 2002 was 46.
"It tells us how we’re doing and how the kids are doing," he said, admitting that the state’s youth weren’t doing very well.
"They know how to spend but not how to save and invest," he said.
Organized in January 1999, the Louisiana Jump$tart Coalition represents the public and private organizations involved in finance, business, education, securities, consumer science, banking and consumer education.
Designed to infuse financial literacy into the existing curriculum in free enterprise, which is required of all Louisiana high school students, the Jump$tart program came as a result of legislation that requires that free enterprise courses in Louisiana high schools include instruction in personal finance, Uffman said.
Under the direction of Tucker and her family economics colleague Dr. Ann Berry, the LSU AgCenter conducts workshops across Louisiana for free enterprise teachers to learn about teaching financial literacy.
The six-hour program provides intensive training to help free enterprise teachers learn to use the hands-on curriculum, said Berry.
In the past three years, LSU AgCenter family resource management specialists and agents have provided the training to more than 400 Louisiana free enterprise teachers using curriculum materials from the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE), Tucker said.
Cynthia Dauphin, director of the Academy of Business and Finance at Acadiana High School in Lafayette, attended an LSU AgCenter workshop and has been using the materials for three years.
"It’s a wonderful approach to teach youth on setting goals, becoming independent and making long-term life skills decisions," she said.
NEFE, which gets funds from an endowment, provides free materials for teaching financial strategies and tactics to schools and other organizations across the United States, said John Parfrey, director of the NEFE high school financial planning program.
"Our partners are Cooperative Extension, who are our storefronts throughout the United States, and the National Credit Union Association," said Parfrey, who spoke at the summit.
Myrtle Anderson, a free enterprise teacher at Valley Park Alternative School in Baton Rouge, said she was excited about the summit.
"I’m interested in more knowledge on financial spending to teach my students," she said.
Anderson said she’s becoming more interested in using computers and technology for teaching financial literacy.
"I’ve learned a lot," she said. "There’s a lot of hands-on material I can use in the classroom."