St. Charles Herald-Guide

Finance classes for teachers being offered statewide

Special to the Herald-Guide - June 21, 2007

High school teachers across the state who want to learn how to teach their students about money management will have opportunities between June 26 and July 24 from the LSU AgCenter.

Most Louisiana high school students donít know much about managing money, according to LSU AgCenter family economics professor Dr. Jeanette Tucker. For that reason, the LSU AgCenter has arranged an educational program for the teachers so they, in turn, can help their students.

The free summer workshops are part of an ongoing effort to help Louisiana high school students become more financially literate.

"State law now requires teachers to include information on personal finances as part of the free enterprise courses Louisiana students must take," Tucker said, adding, "Financial management lessons also fit the curriculum requirements for several other high school courses, including mathematics, family and consumer sciences, business, business math and Junior ROTC."

Nine one-day workshops will be offered in seven cities. "Teachers who take part this summer will be better able to teach personal finance," Tucker said. "Weíre covering topics that free enterprise teachers – and many other teachers – are specifically required to teach, like income, money management, spending and credit, and savings and investing."

According to results of a 2006 national survey conducted by the Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy, which is cosponsoring the workshops, Louisiana teens correctly answered only 47.2 percent of questions on basic financial topics related to taxes, retirement, insurance, credit use and budgeting.

"Young adults are leaving schools without the ability to make critical financial decisions affecting their lives," Tucker said, but notes that positive behavior results from financial education. Studies show that such education helps students develop and apply real-life financial concepts.

During the workshops, the LSU AgCenter will train teachers in using the National Endowment for Financial Educationís newly revised High School Financial Planning Program. The noncommercial, research-based curriculum is made available at no cost to public and private schools nationwide.

"This curriculum addresses each of the required topics and has been benchmarked to meet state curriculum standards," Tucker explained. Professionally designed and created by content specialists and educational consultants and delivered by seasoned financial educators, the workshops offer clear and easy-to-grasp, yet comprehensive lessons in personal finance that apply to everyday life.

"The classroom-tested materials are written in language that teens can relate to and provide real-life learning experiences," Tucker said.

Evaluation of a sample of Louisiana students who have received instruction in the High School Financial Planning Program has shown a significant knowledge gain. Students posted the greatest knowledge increase in learning how to create and follow budgets, a critical financial management skill.

Other significant gains were noted in knowledge about insurance, saving and investing, credit and the relationship between career factors and earning potential.

Many teachers already have registered for the free seminars, according to Tucker, but spaces are still available. Advance registration is required.

"Although the first seminar is coming up soon, our goal is to have people registered two weeks in advance of each seminar," Tucker said.

Teachers also can earn continued learning units (CLUs) that apply to their careers. The workshops are open to the public as well.

The seminars will be offered June 26 in Baton Rouge, June 27 in Bossier City, July 10 in Metairie, July 17 in West Monroe, July 18 in Alexandria, July 24 in Ruston and July 28 in Covington.

To register or to learn more about the locations, visit www.huec.lsu.edu/hsfpp or contact Jeanette Tucker or Petrie Baker at (225) 578-6701.