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in value right: San Diego Education Association member Vicky Banks talks with her economics students about the importance of personal budgets. “If I don’t save anything for repairs or emergencies, I could be in trouble if something big happens, like my car breaking down,” she worries. Rock admits that money sometimes burns a hole in her pocket. “Most of the time when I spend money, it’s not some- thing that I really need,” she says. “I wouldn’t even think about saving any of my paycheck without this lesson. I’ve nev- er budgeted before, but now I can see that it really makes a lot of sense.” Curriculum for responsible spending Rock and her classmates are on the sec- ond day of a unit titled “Personal Finan- cial Literacy, the Game of Life,” designed to educate them about handling money. The crash course in financial literacy is taught during a regular economics class over a period of 11 days. San Diego Uni- fied School District is presently the only district in the state that has financial lit- eracy as a graduation requirement — and likely is a trendsetter in this area. The unit covers a wide range of top- ics including recognizing identity theft; the importance of investing; how to balance a checkbook; the way a credit score can impact your job and lifestyle; and even how the Patriot Act can affect bank accounts. Teachers say it could be the most relevant information students learn during high school. “We started working on this before the economic downturn, and it ended up being timely,” says Banks, a member of the San Diego Education Association (SDEA). “It’s critical for students to learn how to create a budget, monitor their spending, avoid debt and only spend money on things they really need.” Teachers, including Banks, began de- veloping the curriculum three years ago with the help of community members in- cluding Kristy Gregg, a vice president of San Diego National Bank, and John J. Hargrove, a retired judge at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern Dis- trict of California. After debuting as a pi- lot project, it’s now in place throughout the district’s 18 high schools. “I think we used to assume that par- ents were teaching this,” says SDEA member Ellen Towers, who helped cre- ate the curriculum. “But that isn’t hap- pening. Parents may think it’s a person- al matter or may have trouble them- selves with finances. Parents are more likely to talk to students about sex than finances.” But somebody needs to talk to stu- dents about financial responsibility, be- cause a credit score can have as much impact on them as their GPA — and Visit us online Learn more about the fi nancial curriculum Vicky Banks and her colleagues helped create by going to www.sdccte.or the “Personal Financial Literacy” link. .org and clicking november 2009 | 21

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