If money talks, what’s it saying to teenagers? Once they graduate from high school, are they able to handle their personal finances on their own or with limited assistance from parents? Do they have enough financial building blocks to grow into future financial situations?
The Minnesota Council on Economic Education (MCEE) strives to equip Minnesotans with economic and personal financial understanding. Programs include Economics Challenge, Global Food Challenge and Personal Finance Decathlon competitions with students from around the state. Since 2016, teams have come from (but not limited to) Edina, Minnetonka, Wayzata and Woodbury high schools and Parnassus Preparatory School.
The Economics Challenge and the Personal Finance Decathlon are now online platforms. (In June, the state Personal Finance Decathlon champions, a St. Thomas Academy team, won third place in the national decathlon, and an Edina High School team has advanced to the national Economics Challenge.)
“Financial literacy education is vital to the health of our economy and can help prepare students and young adults for their future roles as employees, entrepreneurs, consumers, borrowers, savers, investors and voters,” according to information provided by Julie Bunn, Ph.D., MCEE executive director.
Closer to home, South Washington County Schools offers a personal financial management course in face-to-face, online and concurrent enrollment formats. The elective is open to students in grades 9–12 and is designed to equip students to discuss money issues and plan for their financial future.
Younger district students also receive instruction on the topic. "Personal and financial goals or skills, such as budgeting, saving, investing, trading, insuring and spending, is a particular focus in sixth grade, choices and opportunity costs are a focus in seventh, and a more global comparison of the market economy is examined in eighth grade," says Kelly Jansen, director of teaching and learning in South Washington County Schools.
Moreover, the very basics of finance and economics are embedded into learning beginning in elementary school. Nancy Krenner, a fifth-grade teacher at Red Rock Elementary School and an MCEE master teacher, incorporates economic standards in all subject matters.
Krenner uses simulations and creative lessons to signify the importance of economics. One simulation, "Creative Toy Production," has students design and price a prototype, write and perform an advertisement, calculate their profits, if their classmates decide to purchase the toy, and deduct their cost of production.
"Our youth are our future," Krenner says. "And the economic health of our nation and the world is in their hands. It is imperative that we give them the tools to help them make informed and responsible [financial] decisions."
Minnesota Council on Economic Education
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