Monday, April 09, 2007

Teach your children

Have you ever heard about things coming in threes? I don't know why, but three seems to be one of those numbers that brings people comfort. And when I say people, I mean me.

Well, I have been bumping into education a lot lately, and I don't even like education. Well, that is an overstatement, but still. I saw a series of YouTube videos concerning education, then Ddot, after months of blogger inactivity, chose this subject to investigate, and late last week, some polster called me concerning this subject (sort of related, at least). I will focus on the dinner-time phone call for this blog entry.

I got a call from the Centrist Policy Network, asking to complete a poll. I know, I know, why would I spend ten to twenty minutes of my life talking with at quasi-telemarketer concerning my views on anything. Well, I know these polsters call between one and two thousand people, and really, I have much more impact on voicing my opinion here, than on voting.1

So I take a twenty minute poll concerning establishing a government-funded savings account for every newborn in the US. I had not heard of the bill, but when I googled2 it later on, I found an article and then a blog entry that seems much more recent.

Bottom line is that the polster wanted to know how I felt about the government giving every child $500 at birth for (1) college, (2) first home, or (3) retirement.

I am not some Republican or Democrat, more of an independent, but I can't help but ask myself, "Why should the government directly give money to people to save for retirement, college or their home?"

Because of the questions, it seems like some congressmen want to pass this "bipartisan" bill, and part of the funding will also teach our children3 about finances. And I start thinking about having our government teaching kids about finance. Our government, who does so well with finances already, is going to teach our kids because Americans don't do well at saving.

We have a problem in the US concerning education – all sorts of education. Consider the following:

1. There is a crisis with African-Americans in the DC area on education, source: Ddot.
2. There is a crisis with American Children – No Child Left Behind, source: jenluv37
3. Americans are dumb – YouTube user, dumbassamerican, not that I believe this, but I have been exposed to this

And there have been lots of other things I have heard the previous few days.

Today, I just want to write about how the government thinks it can save our kids from themselves. How they can teach them – because our schools, our parents, are failing them.

Today is more of a rant than anything. But not a passionate rant. Or deeply passionate. I can't really discern the difference. Probably passion. I just don't think big government can solve this, and the kids themselves can't solve this. We don't trust our parent or our teachers, hence the bill.

Instead of giving our children $500 and telling them about savings, investing and such, why don't we get local and solve the problem. Personally, I think we need to expect more out of our children, but to do so, perhaps we need to expect more from ourselves. If members of Congress think our children are not getting what they need for their financial education, perhaps we need to expect more of ourselves. Children emulate their parents, their mentors (see Kathi. Why don't we become better with our own money – better stewards of the money? I am not saying we need to become the next Donald Trump. I think we need to be purposeful about using our money – to donate money to worthy causes, to save some to be financially independent, to spend money on important and frivolous things. Once we are better role models, our children will have better models to follow.

And that goes for financial emulation, becoming better students, better citizens. But if we do that, we will not need to rely on the government. And I am not sure our congress people want that.

1Okay, I vote too. I do vote. But oftentimes I feel that my vote does not count for much.
2I almost can't believe that google is a proper noun and a verb. Amazing.
3Okay, not my children, but "our" in a sense of society as a whole.


~Deb said...

I'm lacking major brain cells this morning...however, I did have fun entertaining myself with the stupid American youtuber! ha!

Oh, and my friend totally believes that things come in threes, and she always seems to prove this to be true.

Prata said...

I don't really think that the educational system is failing children. I mean really, let's contemplate this for a moment. Isn't it the parents and the students themselves that are failing the educational system? I don't know why parents are blaming schoosl for their children not making the grades..maybe if your child was actually DOING HIS/HER FUCKING WORK..they wouldn't be failing.

Now, granted I'm the last one to talk, I never did any of my work. But I grauated from high school with perfect marks. Why that is, because unlike the children of today I took it upon myself to actually learn things. It had nothing to do with the educational system at all. It was all me. The education system only works to make you able to learn what you want to learn, the actual learning part is really up to you at a certain point. That's just me though, and I don't like authority so what do I know?

Leesa said...

~deb: yeah, but if you watch the 40 minute video, it is not "entertaining." Frightening.

prata: I completely agree with you. There is a time when we have to say, "You need to learn. It is your responsibility." I had good marks in school, and it wasn't because my parents or the teachers pushed me. Most teachers just wanted to do their bit and have us go home.

RWA said...

You are exactly right. "Giving" each kid $500 does nothing if they don't know how to handle it.

And, right now, many of the adults in America don't know how to handle their money. How are the children supposed to learn?

Ian Lidster said...

I don't believe in subsidizing people just merely for being alive, which is what such a thing would amount to. I paid my own way through. I don't say it smugly, but because that was the way it was, and is the way it should be. My education was primarily for me, and it was my obligation to equip myself to effectively deal with the demands of life.
I think we have far more appreciation for that which we've earned.


Kat Campbell said...

I teach a class to potential Eagle Scouts called "Financial Management". I'm shocked every time I give this class at how ignorant these other wise amazing young men are about managing their money. This is a skill learned through practice, its up to parents to teach their children to spend wisely and save diligently.

Nadine said...

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Leesa said...

rwa: It takes a while to learn how to handle money. And giving people $500 doesn't really help.

ian: I just hope the bill does not make it to a vote.

kat: amen, Ms. Kat.

nadine: thanks for the spam.

Jami said...

I'd like to take a little time to counter with encouraging research and outcomes regarding universal children's savings accounts. There is more information regarding this topic than what the pollster might have communicated. The policy idea/concept isn't about the federal government isn't giving money away in this idea. It's about it's investing in each child born in this country. We've seen promising results from adults in Individual Development Account programs (providing a deposit and financial education to encourage additional contributions by participants to buy an asset like a first home, post secondary education, or start a small business). They said they actually worked more and increased their earnings because of their asset account. They also reported that the asset account changes the expectations, attitudes, and aspirations for their children.

Currently there is a 10-year national iniatitive to test out the same concept with children. CFED, a national non profit organization, is leading the Savings for Education, Entrepreneurship, and Downpayment (SEED) program, which is a 10-year, 12-site, national iniative to test the policy idea of universal children's savings accounts by providing initial deposits to over 1200 children across the country, coupled with financial education for parents and children (given by area non-profit organizations), and using a range of financial literacy curricula.

Just yesterday, one of the SEED sites in Chicago celebrated their 66 kids from the Mayo Elementary School on the South Side who have saved over $50,000 towards their college education in 529 savings accounts. Each child was given an initial deposit to open the accounts and through financial education and a structured environment, the parents and children have contributed more to those accounts. Considering hat the parents/caregivers for these children are among the poorest in our nation, this is quite an accomplishment.,CST-FIN-save09.article

There is so much more to say about this concept - it's much bigger than just one pollster asking you one policy idea question. I encourage you and your readers to brush up on your knowledge in this arena before forming opinions.

The research comes from the Center for Social Development at Washington University in St. Louis. Dr. Michael Sherraden has a book called Assets and the Poor, and there are many IDA demonstrations that have promising results.

Jami Schlafer
Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law