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High Schoolers Learn The Value Of A Dollar
By Crystel Bailey
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Teenagers love to spend money, and now teachers and financial experts are teaching them how to use it wisely as part of a school curriculum.
After the Mississippi Legislature passed a law in 1999 that required money management be taught in high schools, Mississippi State University's Extension Service joined with schools and businesses to bring this new curriculum to the classroom.
"Our purpose is to help these young people have a better understanding of their financial planning. We want them to set goals for themselves and recognize the difference between wants and needs," said Georgia Polk, Rankin Country 4-H Extension agent.
Polk, through the help of MSU's Extension Service, is making sure every student at Pearl High School will do just that. While most high schools offer this curriculum, Pearl High School requires every ninth through 12th grader, which totals about 1,000 students, to take it. Polk assisted by creating unique ways for about 75 teachers to teach financial planning during home room.
"We are putting together a video tape with skits and interviews that allows students to role play situations instead of lecturing about them. Students and local business people are in the videos, which makes it more appealing to the students. It's creative, and I hope other schools will use it," Polk said.
These lessons teach students about the basics of financial planning, personal budgets, check writing, deductions on paycheck stubs, taxes and credit.
"One of the most important lessons we have had was about credit cards and how credit companies try to trap you. I am glad to be able to begin experiencing this program as a freshman, because this is a great program that I want to continue in throughout high school," said William Everitt, a ninth grader at Pearl.
Lynn Stovall, a business teacher at Pearl High, helped initiate this program for her school.
"By using short, practical activities, games and videos, students are able to relate financial planning to their real-world experiences," Stovall said. "Overall, participating in this program has shown positive results from our students and teachers. We look forward to continuing our lessons in the spring semester."
Financial planning has been a success in other schools across the state. Jan Lukens, Extension consumer management consultant, said more than 3,000 students have received financial planning education over the past year, and more than 250 teachers have learned how to teach high school financial planning in Mississippi.
"We have gathered together a core group of people who can provide a lot of opportunities, books and training. The more activities and people involved, the better the chance that teenagers will make wise financial planning a part of their lives," Lukens said.
The National Endowment for Financial Education funded statewide video conferences and Web classes conducted by MSU's Extension Service to train teachers to teach financial planning.
About 100,000 personal finance books for teachers and students have been made available by MSU's Extension Service, the Republic National Mortgage Insurance Co., the Consumer Credit Counseling Service and the Jump Start Coalition, an organization formed by businesses to get financial planning in schools. The Attorney General's office also has developed competitions for high schoolers to compete on their knowledge of finance, technology, health and safety.