Sandy Welch Understands Economic Literacy

Has there ever been a politician who didn’t tout the importance of a good education system?  I’ve never seen one.  They all agree.

Ask any citizen or businessperson what’s really important for success individually, or as a nation.  The answer will almost certainly include, “a good education.”

I find that education is like the weather – everybody talks about it, but nobody does anything about it.

We now have a chance to do something about education.  We can elect Sandy Welch as Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction.

A former math teacher and a successful school administrator, Welch certainly has the academic chops to qualify her for the position.  More important to me is her understanding of economics.

Schools today fail to equip our students with economic literacy.   We continue to turn out graduates who do not understand the basic facts of economic life, and they are walking targets to any financial or political shyster.  No subject is more critical.  Every American sets out each day to improve his or her family’s standard of living.

Sandy Welch gets it.  Early in her career, she worked for an accounting firm.  She wrote a book about financial fundamentals for teens.   She supports a curriculum that emphasizes a firm, internal understanding of basic economics that will accelerate every student’s success in life.

Welch has a clear understanding of the State Superintendent’s role on the State Land Board.  Unlike the incumbent, Denise Juneau, who lines up with environmentalists in opposition to coal extraction in Montana, Sandy Welch appreciates the importance of resource development to our school funding, and to the state’s economy and jobs.

We don’t do anything about the weather because we can’t change it.   But we can no longer consider education a spectator sport.  It’s time to do something.  We can get involved directly with our student’s coursework and classrooms.  We can participate in school board meetings and provide input to administrators.  We can view our schools as more than athletic venues.

And we can elect Sandy Welch as our next Montana Superintendent of Schools.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

The dancing is kinda weird, but you gotta
love the sound of those great Fender amps –
It’s only two minutes . . . watch this
oldie but goodie by Herman’s Hermits

Don’t know much about geography
Don’t know much trigonometry
Don’t know much about algebra
Don’t know what a slide rule is for
But I do know that one and one is two
And if this one could be with you
What a wonderful world this would be

Montanans Don’t Care About Their Kids

What do you want your child to be able to do when he or she becomes an adult?

Let me guess:  How about “make a good living, have a nice home, raise a family?”  Perhaps “have a comfortable lifestyle without being burdened with debt and insecurity?”  Maybe “save some money for a comfortable retirement?”

You may have other, more fuzzy aspirations for your child, such as “happiness” or “love” or “fulfillment”.  But I’ll bet the items I mentioned above are at the top of your list.

Then why have you and I and every Montana parent not DEMANDED that our schools teach our children about money?

Except those who are on welfare, or are retired, or are so disabled that they are excluded from work, every American wakes up each morning and sets out to improve his or her family’s standard of living.  It’s the essence of life.  We have wants and needs, and we strive to fulfill them within the economic system in which we live.  One would think that our education system would be geared toward that top priority of life, and our children would leave school with a fundamental working knowledge of the role of money, finance, and economics in our free-market democratic republic.

But no.  Our state requires high school students to learn mathematics, language skills, social studies, science, health, art, world languages, and vocational/technical studies.  An extensive array of fine arts is recommended.  But my search of the Montana Office of Public Instruction website did not find the word “economics” mentioned EVEN ONCE.

The OPI website includes numerous articles trumpeting the importance of Indian studies, but none about how to make our Native American students financially successful and independent.

Can you name one human activity that does not involve money?

Can you guess how many high school athletes become professional athletes?  Basketball: .03% .   Football: .09%.   We know how much attention and money is paid to those pursuits.

But how many high school students will need to earn a paycheck or make a profit, file a tax return, handle financial transactions with confidence, understand how their government handles their money, buy insurance, manage a family budget, make intelligent borrowing, saving, and investing decisions?  100%.

(By the way, most professional athletes are bankrupt within a few years of the end of their playing careers, because they weren’t taught economics in school either.)

Some Montana schools offer consumer economics classes or a make a minimal attempt at teaching economics within other courses.  But I’ll bet the participation rate is miniscule where offered.

The biggest failure in our education system is the refusal to provide our children the financial literacy they need to thrive and survive.  As we continue to matriculate generation after generation of walking economic victims, our nation flounders in debt, our dependency on government explodes, and we elect whichever pandering politician promises to give us the most free “stuff”.

One can only conclude that Montana parents either haven’t seriously thought about the importance of economics, or they think their kids are destined to become professional athletes.  Either way, the kids are screwed.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

We don’t need no education
We don’t need no thought control
No dark sarcasm in the classroom
Teachers leave those kids alone

Another Brick In the Wall – Pink Floyd