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Monday, October 4, 2010

STEM Education Center Comments on Draft National Strategy for Financial Literacy

By Georgia Perry-Ray

Regulatory Analyst and Communications Specialist, Stem Education Center

The Stem Education Center is dedicated to its motto “Write it so they can read it”. We believe that this holds true for any organization trying to disseminate information for a desired result, be it learning specific standards in an educational environment, or in the day-to-day realm of finance for the average American trying to make sound financial decisions.

With this in mind, we recently responded to a request for comment by the United States Treasury’s Financial Literacy and Education Committee (FLEC) on it’s Draft National Strategy, for Financial Literacy. The FLEC was established by Congress and is comprised of twenty-one federal agencies chaired by the Treasury Department. One of the primary responsibilities of the FLEC is putting forward a national strategy to promote financial literacy and education of the American people.

It has been our experience as a private company working with government agencies, that simply providing a variety of tools and information does not always lead to a particular desired result. There is a progression of ever increasing knowledge with every individual, which can be precisely described in the terms of the core concepts at each level. We believe that words and the understanding of those words embody core knowledge. The underlying assumption being that terminology and subject matter always corresponds.

That is, in order to learn about X one has to talk about X. More technically, we define a concept as what one has to know in order to use a term correctly. A concept is therefore a body of knowledge. In any given subject the concepts are part of the core knowledge and therefore to learn a subject is to learn its terminology. In our response to Treasury, we emphasized our belief that any design or strategy to better enable the American people to make sound financial decisions must include in its strategy a mechanism that takes this into account when developing financial tools and educational material for a diverse audience. We further believe the use of issue analysis and the issue tree to be an effective tool to achieve this end.

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