Why did God create economists? *
You probably didnt know that theres a Web site out there with
jokes about economics and economists (http://netec.mcc.ac.uk/JOKEc.html).
Likewise, you may not even really know all that much about economics.
Youd be in the majority. Economics has long been neglected as a
suitable subject for Kansas students. Thats true across the country.
People are convinced that not only is economics not funny, its boring,
difficult, abstruse to boot. Its unfortunate because there is, in
many ways, no more fundamental topic.
Mikel Miller, president of the Kansas Council on Economic Education, says,
"The goal of ensuring every Kansas student leaves school with a basic
understanding of economic principals and the economic decision-making
skills needed to lead productive lives is our priority." To that
end, this organization last year trained nearly 700 Kansas teachers and
provided services for another 500. These teachers are now better prepared
to impact the lives of 50,000 students.
The Kansas Council on Economic Education is a nonprofit, nonpartisan business-education
partnership founded in 1959. Through their support network of six Centers
for Economic Education located at each of the states Regents universities
(including KUs Edwards campus), they offer a wide array of courses
and workshops to train kindergarten through 12th-grade teachers how to
teach basic economic principles and decision-making skills. There are
approximately 260 such centers nationwide and 48 state councils similar
to Kansas council, which is headquartered in Wichita.
Not only does the Council provide supplemental materials, lesson-plan
assistance and the like, it is also, through the support of its contributors,
able to offer tuition assistance to teachers as an incentive to take the
courses$75 per credit hour. This is important, because many teachers
are not anxious to take an economics course of any kind. A survey done
by the organization indicated that 96 percent of the teachers who took
the course said that the scholarship contributed to their decision to
To make economics enlightening to students has become an even more important
goal as the Kansas legislature has included economics as a topic students
are tested on on a statewide basis in sixth, eighth, and 11th grades.
Sherie Surbaugh, associate director of KUs Center for Economic Education,
says that there is probably increased interest on teachers part
due to the standards. "The Councils tuition assistance has
been a great incentive . . . but there are always teachers who just want
to do a better job teaching," she says.
The content includes the concepts of scarcity, market economy, economic
systems, role of government, and decision-making. A brief perusal of the
questions asked and skills required would send many of us to school. For
instance, in sixth grade, students should be able to give examples of
government decisions that affected the economy of another nation; in 12th
grade, they must analyze the role of money, banking, and the Federal Reserve
System in the economy.
Mikel Miller points out that the concepts are relatively easy if one begins
soon enough and if knowledge of economics becomes simply a part of ones
knowledge base. She adds that, "Its real easy to teach these
kids these concepts if you have the right tools. One the best things we
do is provide those tools."
The Council is funded primarily by contributions from the Office of the
State Bank Commissioner, Kansas Board of Regents, the Kansas Bankers Association,
the Kansas Securities Commissioner and some other foundations. Banks and
companies from across the state also support it because they, too, recognize
that economic literacy improves the publics ability to understand
and analyze critical economic policy issues affecting our economy. We
should all be supporting it.
*In order to make weather forecasters look good.
Contact the Kansas Council on Economic Education through their Web site,