JA brings critical learning to today’s education landscape

I enjoy shopping, and I love a good sale. Marketers see me coming from a mile away and do a fabulous job of tempting me with a darling handbag, a sassy pair of shoes, or a new golf club. After all, and I NEED them, and look how much money I’ll save, right?

At JA, we talk a lot about needs and wants. In fact, our elementary school programs all weave the theme throughout the curriculum to help students understand the difference. It’s a simple concept, but if we are honest, there are a lot of times that it can be hard to tell the difference – even for adults. So the question becomes: What is critical and what is simply “nice to have”?

Take economic education, for example. When we look at lessons in budgeting, self-sufficiency, and entrepreneurship, we don’t often see these topics taught as core components of school curriculum. But ask yourself these questions:

• Do you regularly make financial decisions?
• Do you work or have you worked?
• Do you work for or with a business?
• Now, do you believe these concepts are adequately taught in our schools?

Time and again I’ve heard educators say that they’d love to teach these topics, but they don’t have the time or money and, compared to English and science, teaching self-sufficiency and financial literacy skills is not an existing school priority. As one recent high school graduate told me, “I know a lot more about how monkeys spread viruses than I know about taxes.”

Showing students how money, careers and business ownership work is more than a school priority, it is a life priority. I am so proud that we were able to impact a record-breaking number of students last year; however, there are still far too many students and schools who do not have the opportunity to benefit from JA.

Research proves that JA is not just a “nice to have” program for select students at select schools; rather, JA is proven to provide critical knowledge and inspiration that ALL Colorado students NEED. And, it’s up to all of us – JA staff, volunteers, educators and funders – to make it accessible.