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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

April 13, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Financial literacy for students

Stronger steps for potential borrowers

It isn’t surprising, of course, to see Sen. Patty Murray and her colleagues begin by throwing a little taxpayer money — $250 million — at promoting appropriate courses and activities that will help people develop sound saving and investing habits [“Murray banks on financial literacy,” Opinion, editorial, April 11].

A good idea. But are these steps strong enough?

Let’s face it: The current economic meltdown, caused in part by overzealous borrowers and lenders encouraged by politicians painting rosy pictures of homeownership, might at least have been mitigated if potential borrowers been required to take and/or pass some fundamental tests demonstrating their financial understanding.

Think “out of the box” –like a vehicle driving test. That’s the idea!

— James P. Shenfield, Bainbridge Island

Educate financial heads, too

When I read the editorial in the April 11 edition, I was compelled to check the date at the top of the page. It would seem that an editorial that contains both the term “financial literacy” and Sen. Patty Murray’s name must be a joke. With her as a financial role model, we can be sure that the current bailout programs will not end soon.

Good for Foster High School. However, a similar program on Capitol Hill and in Olympia, especially in the governor’s office, would yield faster results for the citizens of our state and nation.

— Ken Knutsen, Lopez Island

Efforts offset by modern distractions

As an executive who has taught economics and business in Seattle middle schools many times, I was glad to see The Seattle Times’ editorial on financial literacy.

However, I was a bit disappointed that you did not mention the thousands of professionals and volunteers at Junior Achievement, Economics America and BusinessWeek who have been dedicated to K-12 classroom activities for decades in Washington schools for economic, financial and business literacy and knowledge.

Unfortunately, some of these efforts have been offset by the incongruent messages sent out by the influential screens of TV, movies, computers and video games.

— Harvey Gillis, Bellevue

Don’t discount successful program

For decades, Junior Achievement has been providing financial literacy programs, taught by business students and volunteers, to K-12 classrooms across America and the world.

To think that a new government program needs to be created to replicate a program that works for 100,000-plus students already in Puget Sound alone is to simply ignore a fine, established and supported institution.

The recent emphasis on tests for math, reading and writing have caused teachers, especially in elementary schools, to not place as high an emphasis on social studies as they might have otherwise. Junior Achievement programs even help students with these key skills, most especially with math taught in a practical, “I’m going to need this” way.

Students need a foundation education in many things and students who have Junior Achievement consistently score higher when administered tests on financial literacy. I’m not advocating another test, but I am advocating Junior Achievement.

I certainly don’t see the need for government to advocate creating a program when an excellent one already exists. I am quite certain that Junior Achievement would be happy to show their materials to your editorial board and to Sen. Patty Murray.

— Gail D. Yates, Seattle

Comments | More in Economy, Education


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