2008 Annual Report
Dear Friends, Colleagues, and Supporters
2008 was a successful year for the Foundation for Teaching Economics – a year in which we developed new programs, attracted new supporters, and overcame new challenges.
Although contributions to the FTE held up, the markets sent the value of our endowment down and, like others who labor under the discipline of limited resources, we have responded by tightening our organizational belt.
Our frugality comes at a time when the need for FTE-type economic education programs has never been greater. In the midst of financial failures and government fixes we, at the Foundation for Teaching Economics, think that the task of restoring confidence in our financial and governmental institutions can only be accomplished by employing sound economic principles. Unfortunately, politicians have a long history of passing legislation that hampers, not helps, the functioning of markets and the efficient allocation of resources.
The FTE’s job is to bring economic education to students and help them understand how basic economic principles work. The ramifications of doing that are significant. For one thing, as students learn about the economic realities that lie ahead for them personally they wake up to the importance of doing well in school. In short, understanding the economic facts of life gives them an incentive to excel in all the other subject areas. Moreover, economic education for high school students (future voters) teaches them about our nation’s founding principles, about the traditions that make us uniquely American, and about the economic engine that has generated so much prosperity for so many people.
With that mission in mind, the Trustees of the Foundation looked critically at the FTE’s 2009 budget, with a bias towards maintaining as many programs as possible and reducing spending in non-program areas. One of the casualties of that budget process is the FTE’s annual report – we decided not to print our traditional multi-page, spiral-bound booklet. Instead we are “posting” a virtual version on our Webpage (www.fte.org/annualreport), a savings of approximately $50,000. There are links in this Annual Report that will take you to additional information about every aspect of the FTE – program descriptions, schedules, sites and dates, a list of trustees, who our donors are, audited financial statements, and more.
The key to the FTE’s success lies in our commitment to evaluation. Our 2008 Independent Assessment (and its supporting data) is linked to this Annual Report and reports on program impacts and effectiveness. Based on our independent assessment and letters I receive from participants, I have been in the habit of telling people that a contribution to the FTE is one of the most effective philanthropic investments anyone can make. In 2008, we put that claim to the test by measuring student achievement through pre- and post-tests.
With support provided by HSBC-North America, the FTE conducted an assessment of student learning in 21 schools. The testing project was designed to determine if a teacher’s attendance at one of the FTE’s programs translated into increased student achievement. The assessment focused specifically on the teaching skills and knowledge gained at the FTE program – i.e. we wanted to measure the pass-through impact of a teacher training program on their students.
The results were impressive. Students receiving instruction after their teacher had attended the FTE program showed a 33% gain in test scores when compared to students who were taught by that same teacher prior to attending the FTE program. (We are not aware of any other economic education organization that has conducted a similar validation of their programs.)
Classroom teachers and high school students describe FTE programs in accolades and we now have measured results to attest to their effectiveness and impact on student achievement.
The bottom line is: FTE programs work.
We remain committed to being a leader in online delivery of professional development for high school economics teachers, making investments in new programs and new platforms to deliver those programs. In response to our innovations, enrollment in our online programs was up by 20% in 2008 and is running ahead of that in 2009.
Partnerships with other organizations continue to provide leverage and synergy for the FTE, and it is gratifying to see that, in 2008, a few state councils of economic education began requiring teachers in their state to attend an FTE program as a requirement in their accreditation programs. The fact that other educational organizations recognize and partner with the FTE to meet their goals is gratifying. Those partnerships increase the number of teachers who learn how to use the FTE’s carefully conceived lesson plans – lessons that employ experiential learning activities to make students think critically about economic issues. The impact those teachers will have on other teachers when they return to their school districts and, more importantly, on the students they will teach, is far-reaching.
Today, economically speaking, we are in the midst of one of the most challenging periods in modern history. I believe that politically inspired schemes relying on government control of economic activity are doomed to failure and that basic economic principles will, in the end, determine outcomes. It is in our self-interest to educate the next generation of voters about those economic principles so that they are able to make informed decisions about issues of critical importance. It is incumbent upon those of us who can to support that endeavor.
I want to thank all those individuals and organizations that made a contribution to the FTE in 2008. I invite all those who care about our children and grandchildren to consider the importance of the FTE’s mission and then join me in support of the FTE’s work.
I stand by my assertion: a contribution to the FTE is one of the most effective philanthropic investments anyone can make.
William J. Hume