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Economic education: A call to action

Real Time Economics blogged on a recent poll of fifth graders through high school seniors about work, education and training, and their entrepreneurial aspirations. Before turning to the poll itself, I wanted to spend a moment on the group that was behind it.

The survey was performed by Gallup and Operation HOPE, a nonprofit that promotes financial literacy. I heard Operation HOPE's founder, chairman, and chief executive officer John Hope Bryant speak with passion about financial literacy a year ago, and his message has stuck with me. As the group's website notes, their mission is to expand economic opportunity in underserved communities through economic education and empowerment.

In describing the poll, Real Time Economics' Brenda Cronin wrote that:

"According to the first findings, released Thursday morning, 77% of all students surveyed want to be their own boss; 45% plan to start their own businesses and 42% went even further, saying they agreed with the statement "I will invent something that changes the world."

The press release from Gallup describing the poll goes on:

"Despite their energy and ambitions, the Gallup-HOPE Index findings suggest many students are not getting the education and work experience they need to help achieve their goals. While 87% agree that the more education they get, the more money they will make, far fewer report getting the type of practical knowledge and experiences that will be useful once they are in the workforce.

"Less than 6 in 10 students (58%) say they have a bank or credit union account with money in it, and just over half (54%) agree their school teaches them about money and banking. Half of students (50%) say their school offers classes in how to start and run a business."

It is heartening to see evidence that young people remain engaged in the entrepreneurial spirit, but it's also clear that we need to do even more to help equip them with the necessary tools to achieve their dreams.

The Atlanta Fed's economic education team and other Federal Reserve education efforts are working to meet this need by helping teachers learn new ways to teach economics and personal finance and also by providing rich online content and resources for teachers, parents, and students.

Our latest addition to the resources available online is "The Classroom Economist," which offers videos, a PowerPoint lesson, and other content designed to enhance teachers' presentation of topical economic and financial issues.

In addition to the resources online, our economic education team reaches out to teachers directly through workshops and other special presentations. And, as I noted, we're not the only ones operating in this field. Our colleagues in the Federal Reserve System also have many resources and tools aimed at improving economic and financial literacy.

Photo of Michael Chriszt By Mike Chriszt, an assistant vice president in the Atlanta Fed's research department

October 14, 2011 in Education | Permalink


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