Why do we not spend more time teaching "functional literacy" to our kids?

If a kid leaves school without the ability to comprehend Ralph Ellison, well... it pales compared to the consequences of a kid not being able to read their credit card agreement.

Why does that not seem more obvious to people who wield power over the directions of our school curriculum?

Why do we not spend more time teaching "functional literacy" to our kids?

If I was a conspiracy theorist, I'd say it was because this is how we keep the lower socio-economic class in the lower socio-economic rungs of society. Upper socio-economic parents teach their kids the tenets of managing money, the financial rules attendant to cash. (Well, they certainly try but there are rubes to be taken to the cleaners at all levels of society.)

People who do not know this stuff, however, do not have the ability to teach it to their kids. And worse, they [incorrectly] presume that our public schools will show this stuff to their offspring.

But we don't. Hmm, how many folks with poor literacy skills have been duped into under-buying phone plans so that they end up getting $860 phone bills because they thought txt messages were included with unlimited talk time?

Okay, could happen to anybody.

Hmm, how many folks with poor literacy skills have been duped into signing up for one of those "no payments for six months" promotions then fallen victim to the fact that the rate skyrockets to 28% and they backdate the interest owed to all the way to the date of original purchase?

Okay, could happen to anybody.

Hmm, how many people have been tricked into buying one of those "gift cards" to a superstore in their local supermarket (i.e. Best Buy, Staples, Target, and so on) and not realized that there is a 4% processing fee so that for every dollar you spend on the gift card, the recipient only gets 96 cents worth of goods.

Okay, could happen to anybody.

Hmm, now ask yourself... How many people have fallen victim to all three of the above scenarios?

Uhm waiter, more literary canon please.

Funny but English teachers will go to war to defend the canon. (Just you dare try to remove TKAM or Huck or Gatsby... you'll have to pry it from my cold dead hands.)

But teach basic day-to-day functional document interpretation. That's not for English teachers who teach reading, is it? I mean isn't their some kind of business ed class or home ec book that covers that?

When we teach reading, we teach Reading with a capital R... even when so many of our kids are in desperate need of learning how to read all the lower case r stuff.

Views: 34

Comment by kimberly woodbury on February 17, 2010 at 8:02am
Ohio is trying to address this through financial literacy standards. This is from their website

Financial Literacy Ohio Graduation Requirement
Last modified 2009-01-14 09:08

Beginning with students who enter ninth grade for the first time on or after July 1, 2010 . . .

. . . Each school shall integrate the study of economics and financial literacy, as expressed in the social studies academic content standards adopted by the state board of education under section 3301.079 of the Revised Code, into one or more existing social studies credits required under division (C)(6) of this section, or into the content of another class, so that every high school student receives instruction in those concepts. In developing the curriculum required by this paragraph, schools shall use available public-private partnerships and resources and materials that exist in business, industry, and through the centers for economics education at institutions of higher education in the state. Source: (6)(b) of Ohio Revised Code 3313.603

Social Studies content standards referenced in (6)(b)of Ohio Revised Code 3313.603. 6b

NOTE: Click on Academic Content Standards (PDF). See page 286: Benchmark E, Grade 11, Personal Finance.

Family & Consumer Sciences related content standards.

NOTE: On that page, Click on: “Family and Consumer Sciences Content Standards (PDF)” Then on the side bar, click on Standard 3: Demonstrate Personal Financial Literacy on p. 17 on document.

Business Education Content Standards
Though the Ohio legislature does not require specific business content standards, teachers of non-career technical programs are encouraged to follow the National Business Education Association (NBEA) content standards.

The Ohio Department of Education answers frequently asked questions about Financial Literacy Graduation Requirements. This will take you to ODE's website.
Comment by Alan Sitomer on February 17, 2010 at 8:53am
Seems clear as mud.
Comment by kimberly woodbury on February 17, 2010 at 9:12am
I'm sorry that was unclear. Areas covered are Decision Making and Money, Working and Earning, Getting your money's worth, Credit, Wealth Creation & Management and Protecting Yourself.
Comment by Alan Sitomer on February 17, 2010 at 9:23am
Sorry, I was being a bit flip. But just cause Ohio is identifying these standards, does this mean they are being taught - and in whose class. English, Math, Home Ec?

Are the kids really gonna learn it?
Comment by kimberly woodbury on February 17, 2010 at 9:34am
My department trains teachers to educate students in financial literacy. Deciding who will teach is determined at the local level. The teachers we train are very motivated to make sure their students do learn the information.
Comment by Alan Sitomer on February 17, 2010 at 11:57am
That's good stuff. Out where I am, we never even talk about it as a department. It's all about the NCLB bubble tests.


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