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State Youth To Learn Money Skills In School
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- When the Mississippi Legislature passed a law last year requiring high schoolers be taught money management, Mississippi State University's Extension Service stepped in to help make this happen.
The High School Financial Planning Program in Mississippi was offered to school districts to help them comply with a law passed in 1999. This law requires all public school districts to teach personal finances courses. MSU's Extension Service is providing the training for the teachers who will present this material.
Jan Lukens, Extension personal finance specialist, said a 10-location, statewide video conference is scheduled for June 8 to offer this training. Additional program and personal finance training will be available on the Internet for teachers from July to December.
"Mississippi is one of the first states to require personal finance education to be offered at every school district," Lukens said. "The distance learning teacher training is a pilot program that other states are looking at as they prepare their own high school money management programs."
MSU's Extension Service offers training with support from MSU Banking Excellence, the State Department of Education, Consumer Credit Counseling Service, Colorado State University, the Credit Union National Association and the National Endowment for Financial Education.
Extension received a National Endowment for Financial Education grant that will cover the cost of the video conferencing technicians and the teachers' continuing education fees.
Lukens said in addition to providing the teacher training, Extension agents will also be available in the counties to assist any districts with these money management classes. After the teleconference, an Internet course will be offered to provide teachers with more advanced teaching skills and further continuing education credits.
Julie McAdory, branch manager of Consumer Credit Counseling Service in Hattiesburg, is responsible for raising awareness of students' lack of understanding of money management. Her efforts led to the law requiring this information be taught in Mississippi high schools.
"We want students to become better informed, more responsible consumers," McAdory said.
The idea for such classes surfaced in January 1998 when speaking with some university students', McAdory learned that most were ignorant of such things as credit reports and using credit cards. She said many had already ruined their credit.
"The students asked me to do something so that those who follow will not make the same mistakes they did," McAdory said.
The law was initially written to require all high school students to take a personal finance class so that they will have the skills necessary to handle personal business and finances. In subcommittee, the law was changed to require all schools to teach the information, but the classes are electives.
"If the majority of students are not taking it last fall and this spring, I will be back in the 2001 legislature introducing another bill making it mandatory that our students take personal finance classes," McAdory said.
Personal money management skills are currently being taught as computation in business, personal finance and survey of math topics. The High School Financial Planning Program curriculum was developed by the National Endowment for Financial Education in Colorado.
Specific topics to be covered include opening a bank account, balancing a checkbook, managing debt, completing a loan application, computing income taxes and contesting incorrect billing statements, as well as understanding the basics of insurance policies, and consumer rights and responsibilities.