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This is Capitalism: Up Close, Inspired, Explained

Jun 28, 2018

Ray Hoffman introduces Kathleen Lawson and Marsha Masters. It’s amazing how little most of us really know about the economic miracle that supports and nourishes the USA. After all, only 22 states require high school students to take even a single course in Economics. Only 17 states mandate a high school level course in Personal Finance. Bessie Moore of Mountain View Arkansas, whose life spanned the years from 1902 to 1995, would not have been pleased to know that that’s the state of the American economic education in the 21st Century. She believed the system built around free markets, allowing for free choice, free expression, underpinned by the rule of law, needs to be nurtured from generation to generation and thanks, in large part, to her efforts, Arkansas has K-12 Personal Finance and Economics education. Her legacy is well-guarded by an organization known as Economics Arkansas. Kathleen Lawson is Executive Director. Marsha Masters is Associate Director. Let’s meet them!


Key Takeaways:

[1:38] Kathleen Lawson has calculated the number of children served by Economics Arkansas over the years as 4.5 million.

[2:00] Since 1962, Economics Arkansas has worked with over 100,000 teachers.

[2:20] Marsha Masters was a “third stringer” when it came to teaching economics, until she attended a 10-day workshop.

[3:53] The Arkansas Council on Economic Education, which became Economics Arkansas, began in 1962 when Commissioner of Education, Dr. Arch Ford, felt students should understand the basic concepts of the free enterprise, market economy to better understand the dangers of other economic systems. Bessie Moore was the first leader.

[4::23] Bessie Moore provided a great foundation for Economics Arkansas.

[4:55] Bessie started teaching as a teenager. She had a love for economic education and literacy, in general. She made an impact, and her footprint is all over Arkansas.

[6:16] Bessie saw the opportunity to create the multiplier effect by working with university centers of economic education and reaching out to media and clergy. She wanted everyone to have the opportunity of having an economics education. She produced lectures on the public television network that teachers could watch.

[6:58] Arkansas has standards for teaching Economics in K-12. Economics Arkansas has the goal of teachers not seeing Economics as an additional course they need to teach. Economic education is a part of everything we teach. Marsha gives examples. To graduate high school, a student must take one semester of Economics.

[8:33] Economics Arkansas has the hope that Economics is going to help students be successful.

[9:11] Even a kindergartner can learn of scarcity, decision-making, and opportunity costs.

[10:25] There are great opportunities for teacher training. Sometimes, adding an incentive is useful. The participation level of teachers has been encouraging.

[11:45] Many teachers have no formal background in finance or the study of free enterprise. These training opportunities can help.

[11:50] The teachers have been having their own ‘Aha!’ moments along with the students. There is a competition each year for teachers to submit their economic projects to be judged by economic education experts. Marsha discusses case studies.

[13:18] A fourth-grade class “created” an amusement park, wrote a business plan, interviewed each other for jobs and even went to a bank to negotiate a $100 loan.
[13:50] Economics Arkansas offers an investing simulation called the Stock Market Game. This inspires students to research publicly-traded companies. 13,000 students have played the Stock Market Game. Some have become financial advisors when they were of age; some learned to invest for themselves. They know how to manage a 401K.

[15:20] Itty Bitty Economics is a program for kindergartners. There are songs, play, art, and children’s books that give young children an idea about economics and finance.

[16:10] The Lemonade War book has been great for family discussions. There is also a Shark Tank program for students to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges in cities across Arkansas. A third book opportunity is coming into the program.

[17:59] Marsha explains how Economics Arkansas addresses the extreme needs that exist around the state, and especially around the Delta region. 15 educational Co-ops exist around the state to reach teachers.

[18:55] Kathleen brings up the 65 000 students that participate in a structured after-school program. Those settings can be an additional place to teach students. The Stock Market Game is one example.

[19:40] Kathleen offers a vision of the next five years of Economics Arkansas, especially around their partnership with Stephens.

[20:33] Bessie Moore would be pleased. But I don’t think she’d be satisfied. Not yet. This is Capitalism.


Mentioned in This Episode:

Bessie B. Moore

Economics Arkansas

National Commission on Libraries

The Stock Market Game

Itty Bitty Economics

The Lemonade War, by Jacqueline Davies

This Is Capitalism