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HARRISBURG, Pa. – Mandatory personal financial education in the public schools has long been a cause for Pennsylvania Credit Union Association’s Mike Wishnow, and now he’s optimistic the state Department of Education is recognizing that as well. Wishnow, SVP, Communications and Marketing for the PCUA has been invited by Lydia Hess of the state Department of Education to serve on a Steering Committee for the Gov. Ed. Rendell’s Institute on Personal Finance and Entrepreneurship Education. The Institute is funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Banking, in conjunction with the Bureau of Career and Technical Education through the Department of Education. Wishnow serves on the board of the Pennsylvania Jump$tart Coalition and was its president when he worked as press secretary for the state Department of Banking before coming to the PCUA. In addition to himself, he said several other Pennsylvania Jump$tart Coalition Board members were invited to sit on the 14-member steering committee. Wishnow is the only credit union person. The steering committee will plan an educational program for teachers attending the Institute, primarily focusing on K-8th grades which have been designated as weak areas in implementing financial education. “Even kindergarteners as young as five years old understand wants and needs, and those are the principles of personal finance,” said Wishnow. “So that’s not too early to start learning the basics of personal finance.” He explained that there are already standards in Pennsylvania that call for the teaching of personal finance and economics in the public schools, however “Pennsylvania’s a local control state with 501 local school districts and it’s up to each local school district to implement the standards. “Some districts are very strong and others are weak. The idea of the Institute is if it trains 100 teachers this year and 100 the next, then eventually personal finance will be taught in multiple schools and that will create an inertia where it will be taught in all the 501 school districts in Pennsylvania,” says Wishnow. “It’s interesting that in Pennsylvania the Department of Education has sponsored governor’s institutes for educators in various disciplines such as science, math and social studies, but this is the first time the Department has sponsored a governor’s institute on personal finance in Pennsylvania It speaks to the recognition of the importance of teaching personal finance in Pennsylvania’s public schools, and it’s to Gov. Rendell’s credit that he’s recognized that need,” says Wishnow. -

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