K-12 economic education center comes to Citadel

Charleston Post and Courier
David Slade
September 23, 2011

A statewide effort to increase financial literacy among young people has a new home in the Lowcountry: The Citadel.

The Citadel Center for Economic Education will help teachers develop lesson plans for grades K-12, and will fill a geographic gap in the network of SC Economics centers, making it easier for area teachers to attend training sessions.

A previous center at Charleston Southern University closed years ago, said Helen Meyers, SC Economics president.

Meyers said Lowcountry teachers who might not be able to travel for training sessions could find The Citadel a convenient location.

It will be the sixth regional center for SC Economics, which is perhaps best known for running the Stock Market Game, in which students in grades 4-12 invest pretend money in equities and compete for the best returns.

The organization also distributes lesson plans and teaching materials, many of which are aimed at incorporating hands-on economic lessons into existing curriculum.

“Economic education is for everyone,” said Citadel economist Bill Woolsey, who will direct the Lowcountry center. “Sound economic policies require educated voters.”

How can people have an opinion about a federal policy such as “quantitative easing” if they don’t understand what it means, said Woolsey, who is also the former mayor of the town of James Island. (Quantitative easing was a Federal Reserve initiative to keep interest rates low by purchasing U.S. government bonds.)

For young students, economic education starts with much more basic topics, like what money is and how commerce works. An exercise for third-graders, for example, has them barter for materials needed to construct a kite.

The Citadel will join Clemson, Francis Marion, Lander and Winthrop universities, and Columbia College in hosting centers that conduct SC Economics teacher workshops.

“The partnership means that we have an economist who is passionate about teaching at a level that a third-grade teacher can understand,” Meyers said.

Nearly 1,000 teachers participated in such workshops last year, according to the organization. Meyers said SC Economics provides funding for cash-strapped local school districts to pay substitute teachers to cover for those teachers attending workshops.

SC Economics is a 36-year-old affiliate of the National Council on Economic Education, a nonprofit group backed by some of the nation’s largest corporations. The organization also receives some funding from the state government.

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