Ann A. Berry, Coolman, Denise, Tucker, Jeanette A. | 4/19/2005 10:29:06 PM
Elmer Hunley says he is ready to start teaching his students about personal finance – thanks to the LSU AgCenter.
Hunley, a free-enterprise teacher from Huntington High School in Shreveport, and other free-enterprise teachers across Louisiana are facing a state mandate requiring them to teach such lessons in the coming school year.
To assist Louisiana teachers with the new lessons, LSU AgCenter faculty members are conducting summer workshops across the state. These workshops are designed to help Hunley and others like him to obtain the tools they need to teach their students about income, money management, spending and credit, and saving and investing.
A state law passed in 2003, and taking effect this school year, requires teachers to teach lessons on personal finances as part of the free-enterprise courses taught in Louisiana high schools.
LSU AgCenter personnel are conducting these workshops around the state, using the National Endowment for Financial Education’s High School Financial Planning Program.
Dr. Jeanette Tucker, an LSU AgCenter family economist, said the teachers are learning how to teach teen-agers about real life concepts.
"Young adults leave home desiring the same quality of life they have enjoyed as dependent youth," Tucker said. "Most lack the skills to develop a spending plan to live within their means, select and use credit wisely, set goals and save to reach those goals. Developing these critical skills will affect students’ financial well-being throughout their entire lives."
Recent studies show the average teen-ager in the United States spends about $103 each week – meaning teen expenditures total more than $175 billion a year. About 21 percent of youth ages 12-19 have their own credit card, and one in three have their own ATM card.
Studies also show today’s rising personal bankruptcy rates, combined with consumer credit delinquencies and inadequate retirement savings, suggest a critical need to teach financial literacy in the high schools, the experts stress.
"A 2004 national survey shows Louisiana high school seniors answered just 46 percent of the questions correctly on a survey that measured the students knowledge of personal finance basics," said Dr. Ann Berry, an LSU AgCenter family resource management specialist. "This is a critical area that should be addressed early in a person’s life."
Hunley and other teachers agree.
"Some young people don’t know what to expect when the leave their parents’ homes," Hunley said. "They don’t know about saving money for a summer vacation or buying a house or buying food."
"Yeah," said Mike O’Rear, a teacher from Green Oaks High School in Shreveport, who was another of the participants at one of the LSU AgCenter workshops in Shreveport. "Many young people just have things handed to them. Then they have to step out one day and go to work and make their own money. It’s a real eye-opener for some people. But if they learn about financial literacy before they get out of high school, they will be more prepared."
Tommy Traveler is from the Shreveport Job Corps. He also attended the workshops because he teaches at an alternative school for high-school dropouts. "I’ve learned more about how to teach effective financial planning by attending these workshops," Traveler said. "I believe that I am gaining valuable knowledge that will be beneficial to my students."
Traveler said he believes the state mandate to teach financial literacy is a good idea.
"All students should learn these life skills," he said. "Now that state law requires it be taught, they will."
In addition to the knowledge they gain, teachers who complete the one-day training receive a $110 stipend from the Louisiana Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy.
The workshops are just one of the variety of programs offered by the LSU AgCenter to help young people be more prepared to handle their personal finances and to plan for their futures.
For example, two popular interactive programs for middle-school and high-school students that have been offered to young people across the state are "The Reality Store," and "Welcome to the Real World." For information on these and other programs offered through the LSU AgCenter, contact your parish AgCenter Extension office or visit www.lsuagcenter.com
Ann Berry at (225) 578-2633 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Jeannette Tucker at (225) 578-3329 or email@example.com
A. Denise Coolman at (318) 715-2264 or firstname.lastname@example.org