Entrenched political interests and severely misguided public policies have disabled our political economy over the past several decades.
In an attempt to right this fiscal ship, Dr. Anand R. Marri, an associate professor at Teachers College, Columbia University, along with a team of other faculty and doctoral students, has embarked on a mission to help educate our youth about the fiscal issues they face.
He secured a three-year, $2.45 million grant from the Peter G. Peterson Foundation to develop the Understanding Fiscal Responsibility (UFR) project, a non-partisan, high-school curriculum that teaches students to think past the political rhetoric they hear about the economic challenges we face as a nation and learn to think for themselves.
According to Marri, “The goal of the Understanding Fiscal Responsibility project is to enable students to understand the complexities of the federal budget, national debt and budget deficit. The UFR lessons help students clarify their own thinking about these topics, and, ultimately, to care enough to become active citizens, involved in these and other public policy issues.”
The curriculum is available to any U.S. high school free of charge. It provides students with multiple perspectives regarding fiscal issues, so they can vote their values and change the course of history. The inter-disciplinary approach incorporates wide-ranging views on these topics across five subject areas: U.S. History, World History, Civics, Economics and Mathematics. This approach seeks to facilitate a more informative, proactive civic engagement in public policy issues, without promoting a particular viewpoint.
The curriculum was tested in a total of 56 classrooms in Texas, Ohio and New York. A qualitative and quantitative impact study is being conducted to further refine the curriculum.
Thus far, Marri’s team has reached out to over 18,000 principals, 6,000 superintendents and 10,000 social-studies teachers to promote the plan. Ideally, the goal is introduce this curriculum to all 40,000 high schools across the country.
As these young minds begin to wrap around the enormity of our fiscal challenge, innovative and responsible solutions are bound to emerge.
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