Posts Tagged ‘Finance’

The Education Version of “Moneyball”

December 23, 2011

The continued debate between private and public school funding tires me out. I am a big believer of a well-funded (i.e. wisely funded) public school sector as well as a thriving private school sector. There is no reason why parents can’t be given choice and why supporting private schools must come at the expense of quality public education.

This is where the “Moneyball” analogy fits in.

Moneyball is the true story of Oakland A’s GM Billy Beane. Oakland is severly restricted due to the lowest salary constraints in baseball. Winning means beating teams with much better infrastructure and player payment capacities. Billy is presented with the unenviable task of finding a winning team with the miniscule budget offered. Together with a Harvard economics major, a system is devised that uses statistical data to analyse and value players they pick for the team.

Public schools need to take the same approach. Just like the big baseball teams of the time, plenty of money is spent on public schools, but much of it is wasted money. I look at education in a very traditional way. Whilst it is ideal to have the best sporting fields, technologies and building designs, none of these ingredients has been proven to be essential for teaching and learning the curriculum. The school across the road may be able to give each child their own i-Pad, but that shouldn’t explain a marked difference in maths, science or english results. A teacher should be able to deliver on the curriculum with or without such devices.

Whilst many get worked up when Governments subsidise private schools, there is a good reason why they do it.

1. It takes billions off the budget bottom line. This saves Governments money, resulting in reduced taxes and smaller class sizes in public schools.

2. It allows private schools to lower their fees. This is crucial for parents who are by no means wealthy, but are prepared to scrimp and save (and sometimes take on multiple jobs and a second mortgage) to get their children into private schools. These people should be commended. They work long hours, weekends, give up overseas travel and big screen TV’s, just to give their kids the best education possible. Government subsidies allow that to happen.

In Australia, the Government gives $13,000 to every public school per student. Private schools get $5,000. Factor in to the equation that many private schools are not elite schools with truck loads of money and resources (I work in such a private school, where I earn considerably less than a public school teacher), and you realise that the subsidy shouldn’t detract from a thriving public education system.

By constantly drawing attention to private schools, we risk bringing the private school system down to the public level. What we should be doing instead is trying to get the public school system improved to the level where it gives its private school equivalent a run for its money. That way, you have a private school that sets the bar for top quality education and a public school system that is structured to be able to go toe-to-toe with them based on prudent spending, good decision-making and a workforce of supported and fairly paid teachers.

Never Too Young To Learn the Value of a Buck

March 2, 2011

The importance of teaching kids from a young age about the importance of spending money wisely cannot be underestimated:

It’s not easy for us as individuals to do much about financial problems in Washington, but we do have a lot to say about the money that goes through our own bank accounts.

Times of financial stress throw the spotlight on weaknesses in our money management, as many of us are finding out. There’s no time like the present to make the tough decisions that will put us in a better fiscal position in the future.

If we want our children to avoid some of the pitfalls we’ve experienced, we had better start early.

According to a survey by TD Ameritrade, about 45 percent of the people between the ages of 21 and 45 who responded to a survey said they learned about managing money before they were 12.

Only about a third of the older adults who responded to the survey said they learned about money that young.

A TD Ameritrade spokesman speculated that parents may be learning from their financial mistakes, and trying to give their kids a stronger financial foundation.

If that’s the truth, then some good will come from the current tough times.

Kids tend to be very materialistic and cavalier with their money.  In my day, we had very little money at our disposal until we were old enough to earn it ourselves.  Nowadays it’s a different story.  Kids tend to be given a lot of money, without enough interest taken to ensure that it’s used wisely.

I commend any program that teaches kids the value of a dollar and how to  save and spend wisely.

Educating Teens About Money

December 2, 2010

At a time when the importance of saving money has arguably never been greater, I am pleased to see a new program with the aim of getting teenagers to becoming more financially savvy. It’s high time that teenagers were prepared for the realities of financial responsibility, were informed of the risks of charging on credit and instructed to spend less than one earns.

FoolProof, a consumer education agency dedicated to increasing financial literacy through the use of multi-media learning modules, has released a new video series Burning Money.

While the free program is designed for use in classrooms, the series strives to tackle teenage financial issues like the twin forces of pointed advertising and peer pressure. This video addresses how much a teenager actually needs to buy designer jeans.

Burning Money tries to introduce students to the potential bad decisions that they make which may hurt their financial health further down the line. The films explain how a late payment now can adversely affect jobs, apartments, and loans in the future. The videos emphasize that it doesn’t take a millionaire to save, just someone who knows how to spend and how to save.

I remember standing behind a woman in a fish shop, eavesdropping on her conversation with the lady at the checkout.  She explained that she teaches adults how to keep control of their finances.  She went on to say that she is currently lobbying for the “savings” account option on eftpos and atm machines to be changed to “spending” account.  Because after all she said, “It isn’t a true savings account if you are constantly taking money out of it.”

As a teacher of nine and ten year olds, this program is too advanced for them.  Instead, I teach them a unit on being aware of the manipulation involved in the advertisements they watch, and helping them to identify when and how they are being used as a tool of the marketing industry.

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