Thomas P. Baierlein, Whitman High School's honors economics teacher, was recently named a Gold Star teacher for the fourth consecutive year, meaning that 95% of his students passed their financial literacy test.
"The financial literacy course integrates real-life experience into the economics curriculum," said Whitman's Social Studies chair Jay Corcoran. "Tom connects very well with all types of kids, and he's able to put a human face on a course that's not easily accessible."
The senior financial literacy course is from WISE, a consortium of more than 40 New York-based corporations who work to provide programs that give students the skills and experiences they need to participate in the complex global economy.
According to WISE, most students drop out of college not because of academic failure but because of personal debt. Moreover, the fastest-growing group filing personal bankruptcy is young people ages 18 to 25 years. The Whitman financial literacy course has been offered for five years. Students study how taxation, mortgages, loans, savings, and investments affect their everyday lives and the national economy. They also learn about the role of politics in the local, national, and global economies.
"Poor decisions made as a teenager or young adult can lead to a lifetime of debt and financial burden, and this class is all about having money, about helping students to achieve financial security," Baierlein said. "These courses are a great opportunity to help students learn ways to protect the money they earn."