Like many people, I have been thinking and thinking about our
country’s economic mess. The more I think, the more I look at my
three kids and hope that I am teaching them the right way to handle
money. And then the more I think, the more I know that my husband
and I can’t be the only people who teach our children about money.
After all, we are limited by our own experiences – and they aren’t
always stellar examples. So, that made me wonder what Kitsap County
schools teach kids about money. And that resulted in a story
(copied below) about financial education at local schools.
Just a day later I was thrilled to find that USA Today had
published a story complementing the story I had written. The USA
Today story identifies a trend among students who have become
much more attentive in financial and economic classes as they try
to unravel and understand the mess we adults have created. Let’s
hope they are getting the kind of information that will draw us out
of these problems in the future. Read the USA Today story here:
And my story:
Creating a Generation of Saavy Spenders – And
Teagan Burns can’t figure out why the American economy is in such a
“I’ve asked and
asked and nobody can answer my questions,” said Burns, a North
Kitsap High School student.
Personal Finance, taught at NKHS by Mary Anne Alexander. When the
school year began, Burns said, “I literally knew nothing” about
In the months
since, the precocious Burns determined that a lack of knowledge
“seems to be why our economy and our government are in so much
should be required for everyone before they leave high school, she
said. Alexander helps kids decide the difference between needs and
wants and teaches everything from balancing a checkbook to
“So many people
leave high school knowing so much about math and history, but
nothing about money,” said Burns. “If they can make me learn to run
in gym, they can certainly teach me and everyone else how to
balance a checkbook.”
economic crisis worries Kitsap County teens and they are talking
about it in financial management classes at local high schools. By
learning to budget, invest, buy insurance, use credit cards and
more, teens hope to avoid the problems of so many adults around
“I want to be
able financially to know what I am doing when I graduate,” said
Adrianna Burgonoi, a junior at Central Kitsap High
recognize the importance of financial literacy, too. A task force
studying financial education in public schools will report to
Governor Gregoire in December with new ways to teach kids to handle
money properly. Cathy Brorson serves on the task force and
coordinates Kitsap Community Credit Union’s education program. KCCU
employees visit Kitsap County schools dozens of times each year,
reaching thousands of students, with information about money
trying to open students’ eyes to all aspects of managing their
finances. It’s the best thing we can do for this generation and
generations to come,” said Brorson.
At CKHS, Cynthia
Blinkinsop’s Money Management class began the year watching
“Affluenza,” a PBS documentary exploring America’s culture of over
consumption. Blinkinsop’s students have tracked expenses, including
extrapolating the costs of things like electricity and house
payments from their own families’ finances. Using that information,
the students built personal budgets. They’ve also learned to
establish credit and use credit cards wisely.
Derrick Brillhart learned to balance his checkbook, which has been
overdrawn. Brillhart works at Safeway and used to spend most of his
paycheck on expensive food, like $2 energy drinks, during his
breaks. Now he opts for vending machine fare that “costs like 50
cents,” he said.
Holtzinger learned to read credit card offers carefully. The most
recent offer she received from American Express offered her $500
just to sign up. She shredded it instead.
Credit Union staff members spend hundreds of hours in Kitsap County
schools each year spreading information about good money
management. It is part of the credit union’s “people helping people
philosophy,” said Cathy Brorson, KCCU’s outreach coordinator. The
classes and programs are free.
from KCCU begins as early as fifth and sixth grade with a mock
checking account program. Students keep checking registers, learn
to write checks and fill out deposit slips. Teachers often get
involved in the program too, charging desk rental fees to help
students experience real-life expenses.
At junior highs
and high schools, KCCU employees give lectures on budgeting, saving
and investing, credit cards, insurance, identity theft and car
buying. All the classes are based on curriculum from the National
Endowment for Financial Education, said Brorson.
In 2006, KCCU
began testing students before and after they participated in the
educational programs to determine the effectiveness. Brorson said
test results showed an 18 percent increase in students’ financial
operates mini branches at Bremerton and South Kitsap high schools.
The student-run branches offer most of the services found at