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Dordt College News

Dordt receives national certification for economics education

July 30, 2012

What do kids know about the economy and personal finance? Not a whole lot, and economics and personal finance classes traditionally have not been part of the required curriculum in schools.

Dordt College students, staff, and professors are hoping to increase the levels of financial literacy for students in area schools with their recent certification to become a Center for Economic Education by the National Council For Economic Education (CEE).

Art Attema of the Dordt College Business Department and Tim Van Soelen of the Education Department will serve as co-chairs for the center, which will be a cooperative venture of the business and education departments. Centers for Economic Education help advocate for better economic and personal finance education in K-12 schools through teacher training programs, student programs, and competitions.

“This is an opportunity for us to be the leading economic education and financial literacy resource for K-12 schools, teachers, and students in Northwest Iowa,” said Attema. “We believe students should develop ways of thinking and problem solving that they can use in their lives as consumers, savers, investors, members of the workforce, responsible citizens, and effective participants in a global economy.”

Nationwide, there are more than 200 centers affiliated with CEE, but Dordt College will be the only comprehensive center in Iowa. The University of Northern Iowa has a center that was created in the 1970s, but it is no longer funded and primarily provides a place for students to participate in online competitions only.

Dordt College staff involved with the Center has met and will continue to meet with University of Nebraska-Omaha staff to learn more about their center’s operation. Ed Starkenburg of the Education Department will take the lead in coordinating the center’s work on the education side, and Erica Vonk and Kay De Boom will serve as assistant directors for the center.

This past spring, the business department did a pilot project where two senior students visited several area schools to do presentations on investing and entrepreneurship. They went well – “the ones we went to want us back,” said Attema. An especially fun “healthy snack competition” at MOC-Floyd Valley middle school saw TAG students creating a healthy snack along with a business plan and a way to market their product. They then had to present their work to a small audience consisting of Vonk and four Dordt students.

The Dordt College Center for Economic Education received an innovative teaching grant to start putting together the center, and assistant director Vonk says they’ll be applying for additional grants in coming months, as well as reaching out to local financial institutions as partners.

Their plan for the year includes holding several competitions for local high school students, providing economic training for Dordt education majors, and teacher training with local school systems. Four representatives from the center will attend the CEE national conference in Kansas City this coming fall and hope to have potential awards for local teachers to receive an all-expense-paid trip to the conference.

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