Texas Ed: Comments on Education from Texas

June 26, 2006

A trip through the education standards of economics

This all started with a trip to the Life Without School blog to read the post “Standards of Learning (or One of the Reasons I Fled the Public School System & Haven’t Looked Back).” In the post, she lists one of the second grade standards for economics:

Life Without School:

Economics – (SOL 2.6) “The student will explain the interdependence of producers and consumers in a market economy by describing factors that have influenced consumer demand and describing how producers have used natural resources, human resources, and capital resources to produce goods and services in the past and the present.”

So this lead me over to the TEA website to find out what Texas has in the way for economic standards for second graders.

§113.4. Social Studies, Grade 2.

(9) Economics. The student understands the importance of work. The student is expected to:

(A) explain how work provides income to purchase goods and services; and
(B) explain the choices people in the U.S. free enterprise system can make about earning, spending, and saving money, and where to live and work.

(10) Economics. The student understands the roles of producers and consumers in the production of goods and services. The student is expected to:

(A) distinguish between producing and consuming;
(B) identify ways in which people are both producers and consumers; and
(C) trace the development of a product from a natural resource to a finished product.

Not to bad if they don’t have to know the exact terms. However, you do have to start to wonder when you look at the 3rd grade requirements.

(7) Economics. The student understands the concept of an economic system. The student is expected to:

(A) define and identify examples of scarcity;
(B) explain the impact of scarcity on the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services;
(C) explain the impact of scarcity on interdependence within and among communities; and
(D) explain the concept of a free market.

Yu-Gi-Oh cards are always a possibility. Then I found the Why Homeschool blog with an interesting and probably effective way to teach economics:

Why Homeschool:

Arthur writes about how he taught young children basic economic ideas. By setting up concrete examples of economics the students understood the basics, without the graphs and big words.

The lesson was targeted for 5th graders but I would imagine younger kids would get it as well. So, given what was being required of eight year olds, I decided to see what Texas actually required for high school graduation.

Subchapter F. Graduation Requirements, Beginning with School Year 2007-2008:

(5) Economics, with emphasis on the free enterprise system and its benefits–one-half credit. The credit must consist of Economics with Emphasis on the Free Enterprise System and Its Benefits.

Why emphasize the benefits of the free enterprise system? I can understand emphasizing the free enterprise system since that is the basis for our economy. But when they get to high school, you’re only supposed to teach the benefits? Doesn’t our economic system stand on it’s own as the best system for us whatever its flaws and shortcomings? And how does this encourage critical-thinking skills?

19 TAC Chapter 118. Subchapter A:

Students apply critical-thinking skills to create economic models and to evaluate economic-activity patterns.

Apparently, the point is for the student to achieve the following:

A primary purpose of the public school curriculum is to prepare thoughtful, active citizens who understand the importance of patriotism and can function productively in a free enterprise society with appreciation for the basic democratic values of our state and national heritage.

I can only speculate that some unpatriotic teacher somewhere must have delved too deeply into the limitations of the free market system to warrant the inclusion of “and its benefits” in all official titles and references to the required high school economics curriculum. If we don’t acknowledge any limitations, how can we expect society to address them? If nothing else, you would think that the indoctrination would occur in the earlier grades.

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