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Economics tied to education

"There's a large consumer component on our courses and there's been a tremendous push towards financial literacy on the national and the state level," said Knaggs.

To get students up to speed with what's happening on a national level, Knaggs showed them a real estate Web site featuring homes from Detroit to show them what the housing market is like in a part of the country that has been more heavily affected by the recession than other areas.

"We took a look at the housing market in Detroit, and kids were shocked to find that you can buy a home for a dollar. There were 1,800 homes that were for sale for less than $5,000," said Knaggs.

Other lessons students have learned include the real cost of borrowing money and understanding the fine print on credit card applications.

In Mohonasen Central School District, students are learning other practical applications that will help them weather the current economy, including how to write a resume, how to perform during a job or a college interview and what the recession means.

"My approach to teaching about this economic situation right now is really making it relevant to their own lives and preparing them for the job market that's coming up," said Jackie Viernes, a history and economics teacher at Mohonasen Central School District.

She is also teaching students about reading the fine print on credit card applications and making a personal budget.

"When I graduated from high school, these are things I would have liked to have known when the credit card person shoved the application in my face and said, 'Sign up for this,'" said Viernes.

In Malachi Martin's economics class at Mohonasen, he just finished teaching his students a lesson about the government and the various roles it plays in the economy, as well as about the country's dependence on oil. One of the assignments he gave to his students was for them to research alternative fuel options.

"[Parents say] they never expected to have a conversation about economics with an 18-year-old, and it's nice to see that so many students are concerned about it, so what I try to do in the class is to get them ready to make those [economic] decisions in the real world and to understand that its coming up quicker than they think," said Martin.

Sax said financial education needs to be taught to young people and the skills maintained.

"We need to reiterate how important it is to manage your money from a very young age," said Sax.""

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