The Cowin Financial Literacy Project at Teachers College Earns Kudos
(L-R) Teachers College Professor Anand Marri & Trustee Joyce Cowin
The Cowin Financial Literacy Project is a professional development program for New York City public school teachers working with students in grades 9-12. At the inaugural Financial Literacy Summer Institute, 55 high school teachers from New York City learned about tools and resources available to help them teach their students about the basics of handling money, including budgeting, saving, investing, consumption and borrowing.
“Every person past the ninth grade should have knowledge of money – how to finance a college education, how to balance a checkbook, how to ensure that expenses don’t exceed income, how to monitor a credit card and interest, how to shop for clothes and food, how much to pay for rent and what a mortgage is,” said TC Trustee and alumna Joyce B. Cowin, who generously funded the Financial Literacy Project. And yet, studies have shown that financial literacy among Americans is quite low.
A staunch supporter and advocate of the project is Teachers College alumna, Dr. Pola Rosen, who facilitated the endorsement of New York City Chancellor Dennis Walcott and New York State Education Commissioner John King.
According to researcher and Teachers College professor Anand Marri, brilliant developer of the programs in partnership with Working in Support of Education (W!se), the Summer Institute included a series of collaborative and interactive workshops on personal finance, case studies with explicit ties to standards and curricula. Participants will walk away with several ready-to-use, case study-based lessons. They will receive a TC certificate of completion, have an opportunity to take the W!se financial teaching certification test (the first to be made available in New York State), and to earn a W!se Certification in Personal Finance.
Resource materials for teachers from the Financial Literacy Program are posted on Loot, Inc.org which is hosted by EdLab at the Gottesman Libraries at Teachers College.
The Summer Institute concluded with a festive dinner celebration featuring Teachers College President Susan Fuhrman who underscored the project’s use of a case study approach, an approach that’s in keeping with the legacy of Teachers College. The approach involves teaching students through experiential learning, having them face and address real dilemmas. The project’s goals are for students to: learn how to solve problems that are personally relevant, understand the larger impact of poverty and become responsible citizens that will lead a more economically-just society.
In an unusual turn of events, Joyce Cowin, planning to address all the participants was suddenly hospitalized. Dr. Rosen visit her, taped her voice and had it broadcast to all the audience. In an emotional tone she said: “It’s Joyce Cowin speaking to you from a hospital bed and so disappointed that I am not with you tonight because you are my children, my first class, and I love each of you dearly, with hugs and kisses. To the entire group, thank you for coming. Thank you for participating and don’t forget about us. I want you to write and tell me what’s good about the program. But, even more so, I want you to write down and remember and send us where there could be improvements and also what you find disappointing. I wish you good luck and Godspeed and I am so very sorry I am not there to be with you.”
Dr. Pola Rosen raised her glass in a toast to Joyce and offered all the attendees a free subscription to Education Update as a gift for supporting the Cowin Financial Literacy project. She ended with the following thoughts from John Dewey, a pioneering professor of philosophy at Columbia University and Columbia University’s Teachers College: “Education is life and financial literacy doesn’t just enhance your life. Financial literacy is life.” #