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DFI > Education > Education Information > Consumer Credit Education > Consumer Education: A Blueprint for Action Consumer Education: A Blueprint for Action

CONSUMER EDUCATION: DEFINITION AND CONCEPTS

The U.S. Department of Education funded a study to define consumer education and identify its concepts. The resulting publication, Classification of Concepts in Consumer Education, has received broad acceptance as the conceptual framework for the field.

"Consumer education is the process of gaining the knowledge and skills needed in managing consumer resources and taking actions to influence the factors which affect consumer decisions."

Classification of Concepts in Consumer Education

The Classification arranges consumer concepts into a taxonomy of three primary categories:

  • Decision making,
  • Resource Management, and
  • Citizen Participation.

Appendix A presents a diagram of the concepts identified and their relationships.

Consumer education has been described as addressing four general areas. These are:

  • Consumer Decision making. Covers critical thinking skills related to consumers' goals, needs, wants, and the effects of attitudes, advertising, information and opportunity costs on consumer behavior.
  • Economics. Examines the allocation of scarce resources among competing wants. Explores the principles of supply and demand and how prices are determined. Other topics include growth and productivity, global interdependence and the interrelated roles of consumers, producers, and government in an economic system.
  • Personal Finance. Includes budgeting, record keeping, income and net worth statements, credit, saving and investing, retirement and estate planning, insurance, and taxes.
  • Rights and Responsibilities. Includes responsible citizenship concerning consumer protection laws and regulations, and redress mechanisms. Also addresses topics such as the environment, safety, health care and affordable goods and services.

Consumer education is multi disciplinary by design. As a result, consumer concepts may be found throughout the school curriculum. Subjects that may include consumer concepts are economics, civics, mathematics, biology, chemistry, language arts, business education and home economics.

Consumer education offers more than knowledge and skills; it promotes critical thinking, problem solving, and action. The objectives include helping students:

  • Gain knowledge to act as informed consumers. For example, knowledge of consumer rights and basic nutrition.
  • Develop an understanding of society's function as a whole and the specific role of consumers. For example, the understanding of the role of companies in the economic system; the role of the government in society and the role of consumer organizations.
  • Master skills to function as informed and responsible consumers. For example, writing a letter of complaint; spotting sales gimmicks and using products knowledgeably.
  • Recognize it is important to be an informed consumer.
  • Act as informed, educated and responsible consumers.

Traditionally, consumer education focused on developing skills for the individual consumer— skills such as buying quality goods, finding low prices, and avoiding seller deception the marketplace. The focus should be on maximizing personal satisfaction at minimum cost.

Students of Consumer education today are encouraged to also consider the impact of choices on the well-being of others. Elements of this socially-responsible perspective follow.

  • Critical awareness. Consumers need to learn how to distinguish needs from wants; and how to ask informed questions.
  • Action and involvement. Once they have acquired knowledge and awareness, consumers can confidently act to make their voices heard.
  • Social responsibility. Consumers must act with concern and sensitivity, aware of the impact of their actions on others, particularly the disadvantaged.
  • Ecological responsibility. Consumers should recognize the impact of their decisions on the physical environment and possible conflict between the desire to own things and the destruction of the environment.
  • Solidarity.The most effective Consumer action is through the formation of citizen groups. Together such groups can acquire the strength and influence to make sure that adequate attention is given to the consumer interest.

"Consumer and economic actions lie at the heart of modern life. Consumer education, like the general education curriculum, is part of that foundation on which students may begin to build their personal lives, and on which we must begin to build a more responsive and humane world." Hayden Green, Educator and Textbook Author

THE NEED FOR CONSUMER EDUCATION

Both the efficient functioning of the nation's economic system and the well-being of society depend on consumer savvy. At a time when worker efficiency is essential to our nation's success in the global marketplace; family financial difficulties are reducing productivity for too many workers. Financial difficulties also affect the health of individuals and their families, adding more pressure to an already stressed health care system.

Individuals and families able to handle the complex financial decisions of daily life experience an enhanced quality of life. They have the personal satisfaction of being in control of their lives and are more likely to be satisfied with their social and economic environment. They are less likely to need government assistance such as consumer protection.

Recent surveys in the United States suggest that consumer education has not kept up with the rapid changes in the marketplace. We have not yet reached a desirable level of knowledge and skill in managing personal financial resources.

What Adults Know

A 1990 comprehensive test of adult consumer knowledge in the United States sponsored by the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) and the TRW Foundation found significant gaps. The test included questions about banking, insurance, product safety, housing, cars, and food.

The average overall score on the multiple choice test was only 54 percent. Respondents could have scored about 25 percent simply by guessing.

Of particular concern are the extremely low scores for questions that test basic consumer knowledge.

  • Only one in five (21 percent) know the extent to which auto insurance rates vary from company to company.
  • About one in three (37 percent) know that the annual percentage rate (APR) is the best indicator of the cost of a loan.
  • Just 38 percent know that a certificate of deposit usually has higher yields than a money market account.
  • While nearly half (48 percent) are aware of the typical size of a real estate agent's commission, only 33 percent know that the agent legally represents the seller, not the buyer.

In a 1992 U.S. Department of Education examination of literacy skills, it was revealed that only a small percentage of Americans over the age of 15 could do moderately complex tasks needed to function in the marketplace.

Between 40 and 44 million Americans are unable to calculate the total cost of a purchase, determine the price difference between two items, or complete a simple form.

What Students Know

The Consumer Federation of America and the American Express Travel Related Services Company have sponsored two recent surveys to test the consumer knowledge of high school and college students across the United States.

The results of the tests send a strong message to all who are concerned about the future financial independence of the nation's young persons.

American high school and college students have surprisingly little consumer know-how. Many lack the basic knowledge and skills needed to make important personal financial decisions they will face as adults.

In a 1991 study of high school seniors in shopping malls, respondents answered only 42 percent of the test questions correctly. As with CFA's earlier study of adults, the students could have scored 25 percent by guessing. Of particular concern are the low scores on questions about credit, bank accounts, landlord-tenant obligations, and autos.

  • Only 18 percent of the high school students recognize the importance of the annual percentage rate (APR) when considering a consumer loan, while 42 percent said that the interest rate was the best indicator.
  • Less than one third are aware of the coverage of an auto service contract, and only 18 percent know the extent to which auto insurance rates vary.
  • One-third know that a tenant has an obligation to make all payments specified in a lease and 31 percent know that a landlord must obtain a court order before eviction.
  • Only 26 percent know that, when a credit card account is not paid in full each month, interest charges on new purchases begin on the day of the purchase.

In a similar but shorter 1993 test, college students answered only 51 percent correctly. Though the college scores were low, they were much higher than those of the high school students who answered correctly only 36 percent of the same questions in 1991.

Overall, the results of the tests measuring the consumer competency of Americans reveal glaring deficiencies. The lack of knowledge is particularly evident among the young, the poor, and the least well-educated.

CONSUMER EDUCATION IN THE SCHOOLS

Current Mandates and Policies

The National Coalition for Consumer Education surveyed chief state school administrators to gather data on the status of consumer education in grades K-12.

  • Thirty states and the District of Columbia have statewide consumer education policies. Great variations exist as to whether the subject is optional or mandatory and how concepts are presented.
  • Six states cover both elementary and secondary instruction of all students whether enrolled in general or vocational programs. In other states where a policy exists, it applies to only a subset of these students.
  • Nearly two thirds of the states report that consumer topics are more likely to be discussed today than five years earlier; indicating a growing awareness of need.
  • Personal financial management is the topic most frequently mentioned as one that should be included in consumer education.

Curriculum Approaches

When consumer education is offered in the schools, the strategies for incorporating the concepts into the curriculum are diverse. Some offer a special course titled personal finance or consumer economics. Others infuse concepts into one or more other subjects. Another approach combines these strategies using a capstone course. Each technique has advantages and disadvantages.

Separate Course

Creating a new class has the advantage of keeping the various components of consumer education together and can give the subject a status equal to other subjects. But unless the course is mandatory for all students, only students who elect to take the course benefit.

The major obstacle to this approach is that school schedules are already overcrowded; a new subject increases the time pressures. Since few K-12 educators have been trained to teach the full breadth of consumer education concepts, another concern is the time and money required to prepare staff for a new subject.

Integrate Into Existing Subject

In some schools, consumer education is taught as a component of another discipline — perhaps a course in home economics, social studies, math, or economies. Teachers in these courses are able to teach consumer concepts closely related to their root discipline.

Practical from a scheduling and training standpoint, this approach offers teachers an opportunity to strengthen the existing subject with real-life consumer issues. Using examples from everyday life can also motivate student learning.

A major disadvantage of infusion is that consumer concepts that do not fit into the assigned discipline are neglected — and only students who take the classes with the integrated concepts are exposed to consumer education. Students may never receive a broad view of consumer issues.

Integrate Into Several Existing Subjects

An alternative to infusion in one subject is integration into several subjects. A mathematics course might explore the cost of credit while a biology class tests the impact of detergents on water quality. An art class might analyze advertising methods while language students write letters to legislators.

All the advantages and disadvantages noted when integrating into an existing subject apply. If this approach is to work, there must be a "master plan." Concepts must be identified and carefully addressed throughout the curriculum—this includes attention to concept placement in textbooks and other learning materials. There is a tendency to duplicate coverage of consumer topics in some areas and neglect many others.

An additional challenge to this approach is measuring student learning. Student exposure to concepts varies with course selection and opportunities to test for a broad understanding of consumer issues are limited at best.

Integrate With a Capstone Count

This approach combines features of the other approaches. Integration which taps the expertise of teachers in existing subjects complements a separate consumer education course in the final year of high school. The capstone course is a culminating experience which ties consumer concepts together.

The most vexing problem with this method is the added pressure to the school's already crowded schedule. With good planning, however, many other earlier disadvantages can be eliminated. And if the course is required, all students benefit.

Public Interest

When a group of high school students were asked if schools should give more or less emphasis to managing personal finances, the answer was clear.

Nearly nine out of ten students want a course in personal finance before they graduate from high school. Students with high grade reports expressed more interest than those with lower grades. This lends support that personal finance should be available to all students, not limited to slow learners.

A 1993 national study by AT&T Universal Card Services Corp., Bankcard Holders of America, and the Consumer Federation of America provide another indicator of public interest in the United States. Of the adults surveyed, 93 percent said that high school students should be required to take instruction in money and credit management.

ELEMENTS OF SUCCESS

Promoting consumer education in the schools is most likely to succeed if there is a shared desire to work for change. A partnership of government, education, business, consumer, and other community leaders is invaluable.

State attorneys general, industry leaders, and consumer advocates can offer assistance in identifying areas of concern and in designing programs. Educators and legislators have the authority to make the changes. Endorsement from diverse sectors can also influence school decision makers. The prospects for both programmatic and financial support are enhanced. The Indiana Department of Financial Institutions has developed a six study units on consumer credit rights and mini-lessons on other consumer topics.

An assessment of statewide consumer education programs confirmed four essential ingredients to the success of statewide programs.

  • Commitment. This first element must occur at a high level in the hierarchy of educational policy making. Its form may be a legislative mandate, state board of education action, or priorities by individuals in the state education agency. Regardless of type, the commitment must be highly visible, well-publicized, and supported by both attitudes and dollars.
  • Leadership. A Consistent factor in successful programs was leadership provided by one or more consumer education specialists whose entire responsibilities were consumer education. The typical person is part of the state education agency.
  • Compromise. Formation of a statewide task force allows representation of all interested parties. Formation of such a group provides opportunity to voice concerns and to jointly create solutions. Some group members may bring individual agendas to the table — in these situations, compromise may be needed. With input from all interested parties and recognition of individual concerns, the likelihood for adoption is maximized.
  • Coordination. Once the group has identified a solution, actions and resources must be coordinated to ensure the objectives are reached. This is an extension of leadership with a person or persons overseeing implementation of the plan—assuring tasks are completed and the resources needed are provided.

TAKING ACTION

While the objectives for promoting consumer education in the schools will vary from state to state, the mechanics of establishing a partnership and taking action will probably be similar.

Step 1: Organize Action Group.

Since change is most likely to be achieved as the result of a cooperative effort, the first step for catalyst leaders is to establish an action group. Desirable members are persons who:

  • have a dedication to consumer education
  • have influence as leaders or decision makers
  • understand the principles of management required to accomplish the objectives.

An early decision must be made as to the optimal size of the group. Establishing a large planning group from the beginning is best to ensure all concerns are considered in some states. Those who view a large group as unwieldy and difficult to manage may prefer an alternative — a smaller group of key individuals and organizations that will reach out to others for more specific actions.

Whether a small group or a large group, participation in decision making is a key. The more that people feel they are part of the decision process, the higher their level of commitment will be.

At the initial gathering of the action group, the leaders must have a clear understanding of how the meeting will be organized and what they hope to accomplish. While it is important to hear the concerns of the heterogeneous membership, it is also critical that the group focus on assessing the current situation and establishing a clear agenda for action.

Step 2: Assess Current Situation.

Early in the organization process, it is crucial that group members explore how consumer education fits into the state's social, political, and economic systems.

Assessment of current policies and political factors must occur simultaneously with the formation of the action group as it will influence the composition of the partnership and how the action group will function.

Step 3: Create Action Plan.

Once there is a clear understanding of the environment, it is time to think strategically.

  • Formulate objectives for the short and long term which are both realistic and optimistic.
  • Identify activities that will achieve your objectives.
  • Check this plan against the resources available. Will this support be available in the future? Can other funds be raised?
  • Develop a strategy to evaluate the success of the plan in advance.
  • Decide how you want to work. Identify personnel to do task identified.
  • Consider timing. When is the best time during the year to initiate action? When will tasks be completed?
  • Inquire if allies are prepared to support your activities?

Appendix B offers a sampling of activities that might be used to strengthen and expand consumer education. Highlights of actual partnerships and their successful programs are provided in Appendix C. The action group may spin off ideas from these program and organization suggestions. Local conditions may give rise to others.

Step 4: Implement Plan.

Coordination of efforts is critical to success. Those persons who oversee implementation are responsible for checking progress and making adjustments when needed to accomplish the objectives. Facilitators also assist the progress by ensuring good communication among group members.

Step 5: Follow-up.

Evaluation after completion of the plan is a check on whether objectives were achieved and on the effectiveness of the plan. Suggested methods for measuring success include competency tests, questionnaires, observations, and interviews.

Analyze change that occurred with respect to policies, behavior, knowledge, skills and attitudes. Consider not only the impact on students but also how the work has affected teachers, administrators and other members of the community. Gather information from action group members regarding the planning and implementation process.

Evaluations also serve as a basis for further work. Consider whether a new action plan is needed and whether the action group will continue to function. Perhaps this group will become an ongoing advisory panel.

A second important aspect of follow-up is communication. The group might prepare a final report of accomplishments to be distributed to supporters and policy makers. A newsletter can reinforce and extend the impact of group actions by regularly updating participants and encouraging new individuals to become involved. A newsletter is also a valuable tool for sharing new information with consumer educators as it becomes available.

REFERENCES

Bannister, Rosella and Charles Monsma. Classification of Concepts in Consumer Education, report funded by the U.S. Department of Education, National Institute for Consumer Education, Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, MI 48197.

Bannister, Rosella and Irene Williamson. Developed for National Survey: The Status of Consumer Education in United States Schools Grades K-12.

Hellman-Tuitert,Grada. Promoting Consumer Education in Schools. International Organization of Consumer Unions(IOCU), Regional Office for Asia and Pacific, P.O. Box 1045,Penang, Malaysia.

Consumer Action in Developing Countries. International Organization of Consumer Unions (IOCU), Regional Office for Asia and Pacific, P.O. Box 1045,Penang, Malaysia.

Brobeck,Stephen. U.S. Consumer Knowledge: The Results of a National Test conducted by the Educational Testing Service. Consumer Federation of America, 1424 Sixteen street, NW, Suite 604, Washington, DC 20036.

Kirsch, Irwin S., Ann Jungeblut, Lynn Jenkins, and Andrew Kolstad . Adult Literacy in America: A First Look at the Results of the National Adult Literacy Survey conducted by Educational Testing Service for the Office of Educational Research and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education. GPO Stock Number 065-000-00588-3.

Brobeck, Stephen. Student Consumer Knowledge: Results of a Nationwide Test conducted by The Psychological Corporation. American Express Company, Office of public Responsibility, World Financial Center, New York, NY 10285-4700.

Brobeck Stephen. College Student Consumer Knowledge: The Results of Nationwide Test conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates. American Express Company, Office of public Responsibility, World Financial Center, New York, NY 10285-4700.

Scott, Charlotte. National Survey: The States of Consumer Education in United States Schools Grades K-12. National Coalition for Consumer Education, Inc., 295 Main Street, Suite 200, Madison, NJ 07940.

Dulmes, Patrica. Consumer and Personal Finance Education in Michigan Schools: A Summary Report. National Institute for Consumer Education, Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti MI 48197.

Brobeck Stephen. What Card Holders Think About Credit Cards: Findings of the Second Annual Consumer Survey conducted by Opinion Research Corporation. AT&T Universal Card Services Corp., Consumer Affairs Department, 8787 Baypine Road, Building 3, 2nd floor, Jacksonville, FL 32256.

Wilhems, Fred T. Consumer Education Project: Final Report (no. 125). Education Commission of the States: Elementary/Secondary Department, Denver, CO 80295.

APPENDIX A

Four Approaches to K-12 Consumer Education

Approach Advantages Disadvantages
Separate course
  • keeps components together
  • makes status equal to othersubjects
  • offers broad view of consumer issues
  • adds pressure to school schedule
  • only students who take course benefit
  • lack of trained consumer educators
Integrate into existing subject
  • limits pressure on school schedule
  • taps expertise of teachers in existing subject
  • strengthens existing subjectwith real life examples
  • creates status as "foster child"ofanother subject
  • only components tied to existingsubject are addressed
  • student exposure to consumercomponents will vary with courseselection
  • no broad view of consumer issues
Integrate into several existing subjects
  • limits pressure on school schedule
  • taps expertise of teachers inmany existing subjects<
  • strengthens existing subjects with real life examples
  • offers broad view of consumer issues
  • creates status as "foster child" of another subject
  • only components tied to existingsubject are addressed
  • student exposure to consumercomponents varies with courseselection
  • risks duplication of some components and neglect of others
  • difficult to monitor student achievement
  • adds pressure to school schedule
Integrate Into existing subjects and provide capstone course
  • keeps components together makes status equal to other subjects
  • strengthens existing subjects with real life examples
  • establishes a foundation for the comprehensive course
  • offers broad view of consumer issues
  • student exposure to consumercomponents varies with courseselection
  • disadvantages of other approaches if not well-planned

SUGGESTED ACTIVITIES

Awareness of Need

  1. Conduct a survey to assess state consumer competency.
  2. Meet with persons who influence education policies and curriculum development.
    • Provide information and expert testimony to legislators.
    • Testily before the chief state school officers.
  3. Develop a promotional campaign to inform people of the need for consumer education.
    • Speak at forums where parents, educators, and policy makers are present.
    • Write articles for the print media.
    • Discuss problems on radio and television.
    • Use free public service advertisements in the media.
    • Print and place posters in schools and community meeting places.
    • Prepare community and school displays or exhibits.
  4. Ask political parties to state their position on consumer education.
  5. Recognize outstanding contributions to consumer education by educators, policy makers, and others.
  6. Have teachers and students focus on consumer issues during National Consumers Week.

    Professional Development

    1. Survey educators to identify which consumer topics they feel least prepared to teach.
    2. Organize a state consumer education association.
    3. Offer seminars, conferences, or workshops for teachers.
    4. Prepare and distribute a calendar of professional activities of interest to consumer educators.
    5. Create and distribute a newsletter for educators containing current issues, new teaching ideas, and information from recent articles of interest to consumer educators.
    6. Encourage the preparation of future teachers in the field.
    7. Promote standard consumer education teacher competencies or a certificate endorsement.
    8. Lobby colleges preparing future teachers to include training in consumer education.
    9. Visit teacher preparation classes to demonstrate how consumer education fits into the basic disciplines.

    State and Local Policies

    1. Encourage Consumer education policies and mandates.
    2. Infuse consumer education competency into student assessment programs.
    3. Encourage and assist with the development of curriculum guidelines.
    4. Create a document that suggests how to establish consumer education in schools.
    5. Publish a brochure with tips on creating local school consumer education advisory committees.
    6. Promote regular evaluation of consumer education programs, textbooks, and other materials.

    Educational Materials

    The Indiana Department of Financial Institutions has developed many of the educational materials which are suggested here.

    • Establish a center to assist teachers seeking information and materials.
    • Promote up-to-date state and local materials.
    • Purchase audio-visual materials for free or low-cost loan to schools.
    • Create a reference library of curriculum guides, lesson plans, and other teaching materials.
    • Develop educational materials for schools. — The Indiana Department of Financial Institution has developed six educational units as well as Mini-Lessons.
    • Prepare brochures. — The Indiana Department of Financial Institution has developed numbers consumer credit brochures.
    • Make a video. - - The Indiana Department of Financial Institution has a video "The Credit Trap" available.
    • Create educational exhibits and displays.
    • Produce a consumer quiz. —The Indiana Department Study Units contain quizzes and there are several quizzes on their web site.
    • Disseminate school newspaper columns.
    • Provide bilingual materials for students whose second language is English.
    • Offer technical assistance and support to developers of materials.
    • Prepare a list of experts who will assist with the development of educational materials.
    • Develop a list of persons willing to serve as guest speakers in schools.
    • Create and disseminate annotated lists of resource materials. —The Indiana Department of Financial Institution distributed lists of consumer credit education information to all Indiana high schools.
    • Distribute a packet of recent free consumer brochures and other teaching aids. —The Indiana Department of Financial Institutions offers its study units, mini-lessons and brochures free of charge.
    • Conduct a contest for lesson plans/teaching units.

    Student Programs

    • Institute a student competition based on a consumer theme.
      • quiz
      • essay
      • poster
      • debate
      • project
      • speech
      • news story
      • logo
    • Encourage after-school consumer organizations where student-initiated research and education projects are conducted.

    PARTNERS FOR SUCCESS

    Potential members of a consumer education partnership and the contributions each could make are listed below. Composition of the group will vary according to the goals of the group. Order within the list does not reflect a hierarchy of players.

    • Department of Financial Institutions in Indiana and other States. Staff deals daily with consumer credit complaints and protection. They can give educational as well as practical information on all aspects of consumer credit transactions.
    • The Attorney General and Consumer Staff. These persons deal daily with consumer complaints and protection. They can provide background and data on the problems facing the state's consumers.
    • The Governor, Legislators and their Aides. State government leaders are policy markets who can wield considerable influence in making change.
    • Chief State School Officers and Staff. Policy changes require commitment by chief state school officers and staff. An instructional specialist in consumer education could be an extremely valuable change agent. Persons selected must he able to reach across disciplines to work with general educators as well as vocational educators. They are an essential link to local schools.
    • College and University Personnel. University personnel determine the curriculum for future teachers. This group can also contribute expertise in curriculum development and new approaches to teaching.
    • Local and Regional Education Leaders. Local and regional education leaders may provide additional research data and another link to local educators.
    • Business and Industry Representatives. Private sector persons experience first-hand the problems in the marketplace. Some may offer specialized knowledge in the development of new materials and programs or be a source of instructional aids. In some cases, business and industry make a financial contribution to the cause.
    • Consumer Education Leaders. Consumer experts offer a link to existing teaching materials and other resources. These persons include but are not limited to grassroots consumer groups and representatives of the Cooperative Extension System.
    • Media. Frequently overlooked, journalists have a special knowledge of everyday consumer issues useful in planning. They may also offer creative advice and access to the general public.
    • Teachers. Teachers are a valuable source of information on the needs of the students in their classrooms and innovative teaching techniques. These educators will also commit more readily if they have been involved in the planning and development of materials and programs.
    • Students. Young persons offer insight on the choices and challenges they and their peers face in the market place. Through formal and informal procedures, they can he a source of input for planning and for evaluation.
    • Parents. Mothers and fathers provide additional knowledge regarding the lives of their children. They also provide an opportunity to further diversify the group by socio-economic class, gender, race and ethnicity. These populations may have special problems that must be addressed.

    QUESTIONS TO ASK

    Current Programs and Policies

    1. Do state or local consumer education mandates exist?
    2. Does a curriculum exist? If yes, who determines its content and how flexible is it?
    3. What is the nature of current programs offered—are they systematic or sporadic?
    4. What is the role of evaluation including school and teacher performance reviews as well as student assessment?
    5. What funds and resources are currently available to support consumer education?
    6. What efforts are presently being made to expand consumer education in schools?
    7. What pre-service and in-service teacher training opportunities exist?
    8. Do adequate up-to-date teaching materials exist? Where do teachers get materials?

    Political Factors

    1. Is the political climate favorable to consumer issues and education? Is it or could it be a priority?
    2. What is the general attitude of educators toward consumer education?
    3. What is the nature of government and business interest in education?
    4. Are there special school and community problems that might be served (e.g., high unemployment, high illiteracy, high student drop-outs and consumer fraud)?
    5. Have any attempts already been made to create consumer awareness in schools? If yes, what were the results?
    6. Who ate the key persons to approach at the state and local level to influence policy?
    7. Who are the key persons involved in curriculum development?
    8. Who are the key institutions or people regarding finances?

    Organizational Issues

    • Is consumer education a priority to you? How important is it compared to other activities?
    • What are your limitations in terms of personnel and funding?
    • Are funds or in-kind support available elsewhere for projects?
    • What is your level of knowledge regarding consumer education? How can you fill the voids?
    • What consumer organizations have encouraged consumer education and might serve as partners?
    • Do you have potential allies such as teacher associations, trade unions, parent groups or education groups?
    • Are there organizations or individuals with conflicting views that must be addressed?
    • What individuals or organizations are in the best position to provide day-to-day management of the group?
    • Are schools and educators willing to experiment with your program ideas?

    Adapted from questions developed by Grada Helman-Tuitert, Promoting Consumer Education in Schools: Penang Malaysia: International Organization of Consumer Unions (IOCU).

    APPENDIX B

    HIGHLIGHTS OF INDIANA PROGRAMS

    Indiana Department of Financial Institutions
    30 South Meridian Street, Suite 300
    Indianapolis, IN 46204

    The Indiana Uniform Consumer Credit Code enacted in 1971 mandates education of consumers and The Indiana Department of Financial Institutions has fulfilled that mandate in the past by having consumer credit examiners give educational presentations to high school juniors and seniors. The Department continues to offer consumer credit education by having information and school study units available on the Internet as well as hard-copy and on disk in Word and PowerPoint. The school study units contain vocabularies, questions and answers, reading material, transparencies, case studies, flow charts, simulations, pamphlets, and hidden word puzzles.

    Teaching Guides

    • Indiana Department of Financial Institution has an extensive curriculum of six study units covering all aspects of consumer credit.
    • Mini-lessons are available on related subjects such as budgets, auto leasing, scams, fraud on the Internet, and many more.

    APPENDIX C

    FOR MORE INFORMATION

    General References

    Classification of Concepts in Consumer Education, by Rosella Bannister and Charles Monsma, Monograph 137, South-Western Publishing Company. Available from the National Institute for Consumer Education, 207 Rackham Building, Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, MI 48197.

    Consumer Education and Information: Guidelines for Business-Sponsored Materials. Available from the Consumer Information Center, GSA, G-142, 18th & F Streets, NW, Washington, DC 20405.

    Consumer's Resource Handbook and Consumer Information Catalog. Both are available from the Consumer Information Center, Pueblo, CO 81009.

    Selected Periodicals and Newsletters

    ACCI Newsletter and Advancing the Consumer Interest
    American Council on Consumer Interests
    240 Stanley Hall
    University of Missouri
    Columbia, Missouri 65211
    Phone: 314-882-3817
    At Home With Consumers
    Direct Selling Education Foundation
    1730 M Street, NW, Suite 610
    Washington, DC 20036
    Phone: 202-293-5760
    Consumer Reports
    101 Truman Ave.
    Yonkers, NY 10703-1057
    Phone: 914-378-2000
    Consumer Research Magazine
    P.O. Box 5025
    Brentwood, TN 37024-5025
    Phone: 615-377-3322
    Everybody's Money
    Credit Union National Association
    P.0. Box 431
    Madison, WI 53701
    Family Economics and Nutrition Review
    United States Department of Agriculture
    1120 20th. Street NW. Suite 200
    Washington, DC 20036
    Phone: 202-606-4816
    FDA Consumer
    HHS Public Health Service
    Food and Drug Administration
    5600 Fisher Lane
    Rockville, MD 20857
    Kiplinger's Personal Finance
    1729 H Street, NW
    Washington, DC 20006
    Phone: 800-544-0155
    301-853-8590
    Mobius
    Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals in Business
    801 N. Fairfax St., 4th Floor
    Alexandria, VA 22314
    Phone: 703-519-3700
    Money
    P.O. Box 60001
    Tampa, FL 33660-0001
    Phone: 800-633-9970
    NICE Newsletter
    National Institute for Consumer Education
    207 Rackham Building
    Eastern Michigan University
    Ypsilanti, MI 48197
    Phone: 313-497-2292
    NCCE Newsletter
    National Coalition for Consumer Education
    295 Main Street, Suite 200
    Madison, NJ 07940
    Phone: 201-377-8987
    Zillions: Consumer Reports for Kids
    Consumers Union
    P.O. Box 2878
    Boulder, CO 80322
    Phone: 914-378-2000

    Organizations

    Many of the following publish newsletters and education materials related to consumer economics. Write or call to obtain current listings.

    The Advertising Council
    825 Third Avenue
    New York, NY 10022
    Phone. 212-922-1500
    AFSA Credit Education Foundation
    Central Orders Desk
    919 18th Street, NW
    Washington, DC 20006
    Phone: 202-296-5544
    American Association of Retired Persons
    Fulfillment Desk
    601 F Street, NW
    Washington, DC 20049
    American Bankers Association
    Education Division
    1120 Connecticut Avenue
    Washington, DC 20036
    Phone: 202-663-5425
    American Council on Consumer Interests
    240 Stanley Hall
    University of Missouri
    Columbia, MO 65211
    Phone: 314-882-3817
    American Assn. of Family and Consumer Sciences
    1555 King St.
    Alexandria, VA 22314
    Phone: 800-424-8080
    703-706-4600
    American Stock Exchange
    86 Trinity Place
    New York, NY 10006
    Phone: 212-306-1000
    Automotive Consumer Action Program
    8400 Westpark Drive
    McLean, VA 22102
    Phone: 703-821-7144
    Bankcard Holders of America
    524 Branch Drive
    Salem, VA 24153
    Phone: 703-389-5445
    Center for Auto Safety
    2001 5 Street, NW
    Washington, DC 20009
    Phone: 202-328-7700
    Center for the Study of Services
    806 15th St., NW, Suite 925
    Washington, DC 20003
    Phone: 202-347-9612
    Center for Science in the Public Interest
    1501 16th Street, NW
    Washington, DC 20036
    Phone: 202-332-9110
    Chamber of Commerce of the U.S.
    1615 H Street NW
    Washington, DC 20062
    Phone: 202-659-6000
    Consumer Federation of America
    1424 16th Street, NW
    Washington, DC 20036
    Phone: 202-387-6121
    Consumers Union of the U. S., Inc.
    101 Truman Avenue
    Yonkers, NY 10703-1057
    Phone: 914-378-2000
    Council of Better Business Bureaus, Inc.
    4200 Wilson Blvd.
    Arlington, VA 22203
    Phone: 703-276-0100
    Credit Union National Association
    Box 431
    Madison, WI 53711
    Phone: 800-356-9655
    Direct Selling Education Foundation
    1776 K Street NW, Suite 600
    Washington, DC 20036
    Phone: 202-293-5760
    Electronic Industries Association
    2001 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, 10th Floor
    Washington, DC 20006
    Phone: 202-457-4977
    Indiana Department of Financial Institutions
    402 West Washington Street Room W066
    Indianapolis, IN 46204
    Phone: 317-232-5850
    Insurance Information Institute
    110 William Street
    New York, NY 10038
    Phone: 800-942-4242
    International Credit Association
    243 North Lindbergh Blvd.
    St. Louis, MO 63141
    Phone: 314-991-3030
    Major Appliance Consumer Action Program
    20 North Wacker Drive, Suite 1600
    Chicago, II 60606
    Phone: 800-621-0477
    312-984-5858
    National Association of Consumer Agency Administrators
    1010 Vermont Ave., NW, Suite 514
    Washington, DC 20005
    Phone: 202-347-7395
    National Business Education Association
    1908 Association Drive
    Reston, VA 22091
    Phone: 703-860-8300
    National Coalition for Consumer Education
    295 Main Street, Suite 200
    Madison, NJ 07940
    Phone: 201-377-8987
    National Consumers League
    815 15th street, NW
    Suite 928
    Washington, DC 20005
    Phone: 202-639-8140
    National Council for the Social Studies
    3501 Newark Street, NW
    Washington, DC 20016
    Phone: 202-966-7840
    National Council on Economic Education
    1140 Avenue of the Americas
    New York, NY 10036
    Phone: 212-685-5499
    National Endowment for Financial Education
    4695 S. Monaco Street
    Denver, CO 80237-3402
    Phone:303-220-3403
    National Foundation for Consumer Credit
    8611 Second Ave., #100
    Silver Spring, MD 20910
    Phone: 301-589-5600
    National Futures Association
    200 West Madison Street, Suite 1600
    Chicago, IL 60606-3447
    Phone: 800-621-3570 (outside IL)
    312-781-1410
    New York Stock Exchange
    11 Wall Street
    New York, NY 10005
    Phone: 212-656-3000
    Public Citizen
    2000 P St., NW, Suite 610
    Washington, DC 20036
    Phone: 202-833-3000
    Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals in Business
    801 North Fairfax Street, Suite 404
    Alexandria, VA 22314
    Phone: 703-519-3700
    U.S. Public Interest Research Group
    (USPIRG)
    P.O. Box 19312
    Washington, DC 20036
    Phone: 202-546-9707

    Selected Federal Government Agencies

    Cooperative Extension System
    Department of Agriculture
    Washington, DC 20250
    Phone: 202-720-0987
    Consumer Information Center
    Pueblo, CO 81009
    Phone: 719-948-4000
    Consumer Product Safety Commission
    Office of the Secretary
    1111 18th St, NW
    Washington, DC 20207
    Phone: 800-638-8270
    800-638-CPSC
    Department of Agriculture
    Food and Nutrition Service, Room 512
    3101 Park Office Center Drive
    Alexandria, VA 22301
    Phone: 703-305-2276
    Department of Commerce
    Office of Consumer Affairs, Room 5718
    Washington, DC 20230
    Phone: 202-377-5001
    Department of Education
    Federal Student Financial Aid Programs
    Public Documents Distribution Center
    Pueblo, CO 81009-8109
    Phone: 202-708-8391
    Department of Energy
    Office of Consumer Affairs
    Washington, DC 20508
    Phone: 202-586-5373
    Department of Transportation
    Consumer Affairs Officer
    Washington, DC 20590
    Phone (auto safety hotline): 202-336-0123
    800-424-9393 - outside DC
    Environmental Protection Agency
    PlC (PM-21 lB)
    Public Information Center
    Washington, DC 20460
    Phone: 202-260-2080
    Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
    Washington, DC 20506
    Phone: 202-663-4900
    800-USA-EEOC
    Federal Aviation Administration
    Community and Consumer Liaison Division
    FAA (APA-200)
    Washington, DC 20591
    Phone: 202-267-3479 ext. 8592
    Federal Insurance Corporation
    Office of Consumer Affairs
    550 17th Street, NW
    Washington, DC 20429
    Phone: 202-898-3536
    Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
    Division of Consumer and Community Affairs
    Washington, DC 20551
    Phone: 202-452-3946
    Federal Trade Commission
    Office of Consumer and Business Ed.
    6th and Pennsylvania Avenue, Room 701
    Washington, DC 20580
    Phone: 202-326-2222
    Food and Drug Administration
    Consumer Affairs Staff
    Parklawn Building, Room 16-71
    5600 Fishers Lane
    Rockville, MD 20857
    Phone: 301-443-5006
    Internal Revenue Service
    Check your local directory under U.S. Government,
    Treasury Department
    Mass Media Bureau
    Complaints and Investigations
    Federal Communications Commission
    2025 M Street, NW, Room 8210
    Washington, DC 20554
    Phone: 202-632-7048
    National Credit Union Administration
    17766 Street, NW
    Washington, DC 20456
    Phone: 202-682-9600
    National Health Information Center
    Dept. of Health and Human Services
    P.O. Box 1133
    Washington, DC 20013-1133
    Phone: 301-565-4167
    National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
    Department of Transportation
    Washington, DC 20690
    phone: 800-424-9393
    Occupational Safety and Health Administration
    Check your local directory under U.S. Government,
    Labor Department
    Phone: 202-532-8151
    Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity
    Dept of Housing & Urban Development
    Room 5100
    Washington, DC 20410
    Phone: 202-7084252
    800424-8590
    Office of Thrift Supervision
    Consumer Affairs
    17006 Street, NW
    Washington, DC 20552
    Phone: 202-906-6000
    800-842-6929
    Securities and Exchange Commission
    Office of Consumer Affairs
    450 5th Street, NW
    Washington, DC 20549
    Social Security Administration
    Phone: 800-SSA-1213
    or see your local telephone directory
    under U.S. Government
    U.S. Office of Consumer Affairs
    750 17th Street, NW Suite 650
    Washington, DC 20006-2402
    Phone: 202-395-7913