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Front St.Clovis Schools Section - Clovis Free PressBack St.
Vol. 17  No. 21 Final Edition
Clovis Free Press

January 22, 2001
Economic Future of America!
Free Press Depends Upon The Informed Citizen
By Howard Hobbs, Ph.D. Valley Press Media Network

     CLOVIS -- In a democratic society, the implementation of sound economic policy depends on an economically literate public.
  The economics way of thinking!The Clovis Free Press supports economic education, including learning activities in fundamental political economics, free enterprise and sound money principles. The goal of the Free Press education program is to provide members of the public, educators and students with column resources& archives that will aid them in gaining a complete understand these important principles and the ethics foundation upon which our social system is based.
     The inclusion of economics as a core subject in the Goals 2000 Educate America Act recognizes the value of economic understanding in helping people comprehend the modern world, make decisions that shape their futures, and strengthen major institutions.

     The California Public Schools Twelfth Grade Social Science Framework emphasizes the principles of economics that bear directly on the ordinary business of life, affecting people in their roles as consumers and producers.
      Economics also plays an important role in local, state, national, and international public policy. Economic issues frequently influence voters in national, state, and local elections.
      A better understanding of economies enables us to understand the forces that affect our local, regional and national policy making every day, and helps us identify and evaluate the consequences of both private decisions and public policies involving taxation, debt accumulation, and welfare expenditures.
      Many institutions in our democratic market economy function more effectively when our citizens are articulate and well informed about economics.
      Learning how to reason about economic issues is important also because the analytic approach of economics differs sharply in key respects from the social capital approach thought to be appropriate for other related subjects such as history and civics.
      Yet valid economic analysis helps us to master many such areas of inquiry as well, providing effective ways to examine many of the "why" questions in history, politics, business, and international relations. Skills, as well as content, play an important part in economic reasoning.
      The key skills students must develop in economics include an ability to: (a) identify economic problems, alternatives, benefits, and costs; (b) analyze the incentives at work in an economic situation; (c) examine the consequences of changes in economic conditions and public policies; (d) collect and organize economic evidence; and (e) compare benefits with costs.
      Students should have gained several kinds of economic knowledge by the time they have finished the Twelfth Grade.
      First, they should understand basic economic concepts, and be able to reason logically about key economic issues that affect their lives as workers, consumers, and citizens, so they can avoid errors that are common among persons who do not understand economics.
      Second, they should know some pertinent facts about the American economy, including its size and the current rates of unemployment, inflation, and interest.
      Third, they should understand that economists hold differing views and often conflicting value orientations on some economic issues. This is especially true for topics such as the appropriate size of government in a market economy, how and when the federal government should try to fight unemployment and inflation, and how and when the federal government should try to promote economic growth.
      Nevertheless, there is widespread agreement among economists on many issues and in their basic methods of analysis.
      Results of natiowide survey reveal that many Americans are not familiar with the definitions of the gross domestic product or a budget deficit.
       Only three in ten (29%) adults and two in ten (21%) students know that if the gross domestic product of the United States has increased but the production of goods has remained the same, then the production of services has increased.
       Just over half (54%) of the adult population knows that when the federal government's expenditures for a year are greater than its revenue for that year, there is a budget deficit.
       Only one in four (23%) high school students is familiar with this definition. A sizable number of adults (22%) and students (25%) confuse the definition of a budget deficit with the national debt.
      Test Scores of the General Public are not encouraging. Half of all American. adults receive a failing grade for their knowledge of basic economic concepts.
       Adults who have completed college score dramatically higher than those who have not. On average, American adults get a grade of 57% for their knowledge of basic economic concepts. Only six percent of adults receive a grade of A, and ten percent receive a grade of B.
       Three out of five (60%) college-educated Americans score C or better while only three in ten (32%) adults with some college and fewer than two in ten (17%) adults with a high school education or less do the same.
       Working Americans score higher than non-working Americans. Just over one in three (36%) working Americans compared to one in five (20%) non-working Americans receive a grade of C or better. Men (40%) are more likely than women (22%) and white adults (36%) are more likely than black (13%) and Hispanic (9%) adults to receive a grade of C or better for their understanding of economic concepts.
       Test scores for students are weak. High school students across America receive an average grade of 48% for their understanding of basic economic principles. Twelfth graders score significantly higher than students in lower grades and receive scores comparable to those of adults.
       Only three percent of students receive a letter grade of A, and seven percent receive a letter grade of B. Two out of five (39%) twelfth graders receive a C or better. No more than one in five students in the lower grades do the same (14% grade 9, 12% grade 10, and 24% grade 11).
       Seniors receive the same average score as adults (58% vs. 57%) and are more likely than adults (39% vs. 30%) to receive at least a C for their understanding of economics.
      Students who usually receive A's in their courses are more likely than other students to receive at least a C for their understanding of basic economics (37% mostly A's vs. 23% mostly A's and B's, 14% mostly B's and C's and 11% worse than C). Students who have been taught economics in school (26%) are more likely than those who have not (14%) to get a grade of C or better for their understanding of the Standards in Economics.
       Students who have at least one parent with a college education (30%) are more likely than students who do not have a parent with a college education (15%) to receive a C or better.
       Boys are more likely than girls (25% vs. 17%), and white students are more likely than black and Hispanic students (26% vs. 11% and 14%) to score C or better.

     [Editor's Note: Economic projections & demographic data on the Greater Clovis region have been researched by economists from Valley Press Media Network. Dynamic effects of the local, regional, and national economies can be reliably derived from the interactions of economic data which relaibly operate along the line of the model, seen at: Clovis Regional Economic-Demographic Forecasting & Policy Analyses.]

Letter to the Editor

©2001 Valley Press Media Network. All rights reserved.

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