The importance of a sound economic education

Brennan Brown
Brennan Brown

Why is the U.S. unemployment rate nearly 10 percent? Why does the average American worker have to work until July 16th just to pay his or her share of the cost of government? Why has the government borrowed more money in the past eight years than in all of the previous years of our nation's history combined?

The answers all stem from a lurking issue in our nation's educational system: a lack of teaching students about sound economic principles.

Our current economic crisis is at best the result of a lack of a sound economic education and at worst the unwilling nature of politicians to enact what is in the best long-term interest of the American people.

A well-rounded training in economics begins with a deep understanding and appreciation of the free enterprise system. Specifically, economics students of all ages must possess a healthy respect for private property, comprehension of free markets, understanding of the profit and loss system, and the ability to define the proper role of government - to protect our unalienable rights to life, liberty and property.

There is little doubt that economic education improves economic literacy, which, in turn, leads people to support sound economic policy. The National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as "The Nation's Report Card," administered its first-ever economics test to high school seniors in 2006. Results showed that while only 42 percent scored at the "proficient" level, those who had taken an advanced economics class did significantly better.

Similarly, the Arizona Council on Economic Education administered its own test to high school seniors and found that those who had studied economics did better than those who had not, and those who took a course with rigorous standards did better still. The latter group also had more favorable attitudes to market solutions to economic problems.

While our current policymakers may not be armed with a solid education in economics, Northwood University is working to shape the future leaders of a global, free enterprise society. That means making sure every student has a rich understanding of free-market economics.

Northwood University has recently taken this mission one step further.  A partnership between Northwood and Cornerstone Schools, a K-8 private school in Detroit, focuses on teaching these essential economic principles to eighth-grade students. As our nation struggles through the worst economic turmoil in recent history, it is clear that lessons in sound economics cannot come early or often enough.


Brennan Brown currently serves a dual appointment with Northwood University as both Faculty Manager for Northwood's Adult Degree Program and a Professor of Economics.  Previously, Mr. Brown was an Adjunct Professor of Economics with Northwood University and an economic and education policy advisor to state Sen. Nancy Cassis, R-Novi.