Simple Economics - KFVE, K5-Hawaii News Now, Local Programming

June 27, 2011

Simple Economics

The new Board of Directors of the state Department of Education has proposed decreasing the number of required social studies credits from four to three for high school students. In the deleted credit's place, the DOE wants to mandate more math requirements for students as part of their pre-requisites for graduating.

The DOE says the cut in social studies actually allows for more flexibility for students, while making sure that every student has three math and two science classes. While this proposal does make some sense, perhaps it would be best to take a view from afar, which those of us not involved can do, and look at what might better prepare our students for the rigors of life beyond the schoolyard. Analytical thinking beyond Xs and Os is imperative in most areas of business and social contact. Understanding context in matters is a vital and learned trait.

I am not totally removed from this dilemma, as I am a concerned Board member of the Hawaii Council on Economic Education (HCEE), but how many high schoolers understand how to balance a checkbook, how to read a bank statement or a business plan, how supply and demand often determines costs and opportunities, how to decipher credit card interest rates and adjustable rate mortgages? What if one of the high school math requirements was actually combined with some real learning of economics- as a mandate? In an HCEE survey six years ago, 71% of Hawaii high school seniors did not know what a budget deficit was. With our American tendency to spend until we can't afford any more and our proclivity to run up the charge cards beyond our means, maybe dictating some learning in the artful science of economics would help the country's economic health down the road; and no better place to start than with our youth. Think about it…

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