Thursday, November 20, 2014

Cuyamaca College center working to boost high school students' financial literacy

             The Cuyamaca College-based San Diego Center for Economic Education will help update the financial literacy curriculum at high schools in the San Diego Unified School District under a new two-year, $161,533 grant.

            The San Diego Center for Economic Education at Cuyamaca College trains scores of elementary and high school teachers each year on the best methods for teaching economics in the classroom and how to infuse economics into other subject areas such as history or geography. The San Diego Center for Economic Education is the only one of 11 such centers in the state that is located at a community college.

            The Cuyamaca College center’s latest effort will help train 50 economics teachers at more than two dozen San Diego Unified high schools in the latest methods and theories in financial literacy. It also will pay for substitute teachers needed to cover for the economics instructors while they are undergoing training. Some 8,000 high school students will benefit from the training each year, according to San Diego Unified.

            “This is a huge responsibility and we are honored to partner with San Diego Unified School District in making sure that thousands of high school students will have the financial literacy education they need to make sound decisions in the future,” said Anthony Zambelli, a former economics professor who worked to have Cuyamaca College designated as the Center for Economic Education serving San Diego and Imperial counties and who is the center’s director.

            The professional development training is being funded by Discover Financial Services’ “Pathway to Financial Success” program, a five-year, $10-million commitment to bring updated financial education curriculum into public high schools across the country.

            “Because of the generosity of Discover Credit Cards, our schools will use the money to update their financial education curriculum and provide professional development to the teachers so they can provide real-life experiences and education to their students,” said Linda Zintz, San Diego Unified’s communications director. “This is directly in support of the common core standards that emphasize learning by doing, and applying the concepts of money management to the real world. We are also fortunate to be able to work directly with the Economic Council for Education, which will work with our teachers on the latest teaching strategies in order to best educate students to be financially literate in today’s competitive society.”

            Statistics show that a majority of Americans lack the knowledge to make good financial decisions. A recent study conducted by Discover found high school seniors ranked personal finance as the most important subject for ensuring personal future success, tied with math.

            “Increasingly, students begin part-time work when they turn 16 years of age, with many entering the full-time workforce immediately after leaving high school,” states a San Diego Unified report. “Students are often supplementing the home income or even serving as the primary bread winner for their family. Lacking financial literacy skills, young adults frequently fail to make wise decisions and often fall quickly into debt. Ultimately, these young adults are forced to spend their 20s and 30s trying to dig themselves out of unnecessary debt, eliminating any chance to use these critical years for saving and investing.”

            Discover expects Pathway to Financial Success to reach more than a half million students nationwide as it works to raise awareness about the need for financial education in the classroom, and provide financial education tools and resources for schools to use in teaching students.