About 70 junior and senior high school teachers gather in Des Moines today and tomorrow to learn how to teach “financial literacy.” Julie Cook is state coordinator of the program called JumpStart .She says financial education can show up anywhere in a curriculum, as part of family and consumer science courses, economics, social studies, math or even reading. Cook says some very practical knowledge can be integrated with the reading and writing.Things like how to look for a car loan, leasing versus owning, how to read an apartment lease and how to fill out the forms for financial aid. Cook says it’s information that will be vital as young people approach adulthood. Cook says we assume this life skill will be taught in the home but in an increasingly complex world, young people are graduating without skills they need. Cook says the idea behind the “JumpStart” program is to get those kind of skills to kids before they graduate from high school.That’s the age when they’ll start buying their first car, getting their first credit card, laying the groundwork for their credit history and unfortunately in many cases their first load of debt. She says with consumer debt skyrocketing and bankruptcies at an all-time high it’s in everyone’s best interest for youth to become financially literate. Cook says the “No Child Left Behind” legislation signed recently in Washington recognizes for the first time the importance of financial education. Coordinators of this week’s event are volunteers who work in related fields, from banking to collection agencies.
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