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FEDERAL RESERVE BANKS OF ST. LOUIS AND PHILADELPHIA

ECONOMIC EDUCATION

Sojourner Truth: Ain’t I a Woman?
By Patricia C. and Fredrick McKissack / ISBN-13: 978-0-590-44691-4

Lesson Author
Barbara Flowers, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Standards and Benchmarks (see page 16)
Lesson Description
In this lesson, students read the story of Sojourner Truth and discuss events that took
place during her lifetime. Among these were the abolition of slavery and the effects
of policies pertaining to abolition. Students will determine the costs, benefits, and
unintended consequences of policies, beginning with an analysis of costs, benefits,
and unintended consequences of a policy that would allow them to take two years off
of school before advancing to middle school. They will analyze the effects of policies
noted in the book and continue the analysis by examining government policies.

Grade Level
6-8

Concepts
Benefits
Costs
Unintended consequences

Objectives
Students will
•

define benefits, costs, and unintended consequences; and

•

identify costs, benefits, and unintended consequences of sample policies.

Time
60 minutes

© 2012, Federal Reserve Banks of St. Louis and Philadelphia. Permission is granted to reprint or photocopy this lesson in its entirety
for educational purposes, provided the user credits the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, www.stlouisfed.org/education.

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Lesson Plan

Sojourner Truth

Materials
•

Sojourner Truth: Ain’t I a Woman? by Patricia C. and Fredrick McKissack
(ISBN-13: 978-0-590-44691-4)

•

Handout 1: Schedule of the Perfect Day, one copy per student and one copy for
the teacher to use as a visual

•

Handout 2: Policies and Consequences, one copy cut into strips, one strip per
student (being careful that pairs of strips are used), and one copy for the teacher
to serve as an answer key

•

Handout 3: Assessment, one copy for each student

Procedure
1.

Display Handout 1: Schedule of the Perfect Day. Explain to the students that you are
going to create a schedule of their perfect non-school day. Begin asking students to
describe their day, hour by hour. A sample table is below.

The Perfect Day
Time

Activity

8:00-9:00 a.m.

Play video games

9:00-10:00 a.m.

Play video games

10:00-11:00 a.m.

Play video games

11:00-noon

Eat, get dressed, text friends

Noon-1:00 p.m.

Go swimming at water park

1:00-2:00 p.m.

Go swimming at water park

2:00-3:00 p.m.

Go swimming at water park

3:00-4:00 p.m.

Visit snack bar, hang with friends

4:00-5:00 p.m.

Go to early-bird movie

5:00-6:00 p.m.

Movie

6:00-7:00 p.m.

Movie and theater arcade

7:00-8:00 p.m.

Pizza with friends

8:00-9:00 p.m.

Play video games at home

9:00-10:00 p.m.

Play video games, text friends

© 2012, Federal Reserve Banks of St. Louis and Philadelphia. Permission is granted to reprint or photocopy this lesson in its entirety
for educational purposes, provided the user credits the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, www.stlouisfed.org/education.

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Lesson Plan
2.

3.

Sojourner Truth

Distribute Handout 1. As the students mention activities, choose a few to write on the
displayed copy of Handout 1 while having students fill in their own “perfect day” table
with their own preferences. When students have completed the common table and
their individual tables, ask the following questions:
•

What would you do if you had a day off of school? (Answers will vary.)

•

If you were planning the perfect week, what additional activities would you do?
(Answers will vary.)

•

Let’s say you have two months to do anything you want to do. What additional
activities would you do? (Answers will vary.)

Write the word “benefits” on the board and define benefits as things that are favorable to a decisionmaker. Ask students what benefits they could see for students entering sixth grade to take two years off of school before proceeding to middle school.
Record the benefits on the board. Some possible benefits follow:
•

You are only young once and should spend some of that time having fun.

•

There are important social and learning benefits associated with some activities
done outside of school.

•

Students this age have been learning the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic
and should take a break before moving on to the next level.

•

Students with younger brothers and sisters could help with the child care while
their parents work.

4.

Ask students to imagine a new government policy that allows students to take two
years off of school before continuing with middle school. Explain that this break from
school would be strictly voluntary. Students could forgo the break and continue
immediately into middle school if they chose to.

5.

Ask for a show of hands of students who might think about taking two years off.
Explain that the students have already started on a list of benefits that might be gained
as a result of this government policy.

6.

Write “costs” to the right of the word “benefits” on the board. Explain that costs are
things unfavorable to a decisionmaker. In this case, costs would be unfavorable outcomes of deciding to take two years off of school. Ask the students for possible costs,
and record these on the board. Some possible costs follow:
•

Students might forget much of what they’ve learned for the past six years and
have to spend a great deal of time relearning.

•

Students might lose study skills and find it hard to set aside time to study or to
concentrate.

© 2012, Federal Reserve Banks of St. Louis and Philadelphia. Permission is granted to reprint or photocopy this lesson in its entirety
for educational purposes, provided the user credits the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, www.stlouisfed.org/education.

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Lesson Plan

Sojourner Truth

•

After being out of the classroom for so long, students might find it difficult to sit
for long periods of time and pay attention.

•

Students who chose to stay home would be two years behind students who
chose to stay in school, and thus two years behind those of the same age entering high school, college, and the workforce.

•

Students who chose to stay home would be two years behind students in other
countries who eventually will be competing for jobs in the same labor market as
the stay-home students.

7.

Explain that the costs the students recorded were foreseen, meaning that the students
are able to anticipate costs or problems with the policy and make a decision as to
whether the policy is a good one.

8.

Explain that policymakers must make decisions about what government can provide
with its limited resources. They should consider all costs and benefits when making
choices. However, policies are often instituted without policymakers knowing all of the
possible outcomes. Policymakers may pass a policy quickly to make the benefits available quickly, so they don’t have time to consider all of the possible outcomes. However,
it is also the case that policymakers cannot fully know what the future will hold for
the policy—they can never fully anticipate all of a policy’s costs and benefits. Sometimes there are unforeseen costs. These unforeseen costs can be so severe that if people had known about them, they would have rejected the government policy.

9.

The list below contains some costs and benefits the students may not have considered
regarding taking two years off of school. If so, suggest that these are unintended
consequences of this policy. Unintended consequences are unforeseen costs or benefits. Note that unintended consequences can be positive or negative, as exemplified in
this list:
•

Teachers may be laid off if fewer students attend school.

•

Parents may have to take time off from work or find day care for their children.
This would be expensive for families because they would receive less income or
have an increase in daycare expenses.

•

Parents may find it necessary to allow their children to stay home alone, and the
children may do things they shouldn’t be doing.

•

Children may learn valuable housekeeping skills as parents rely on the children to
clean and cook while they are home.

•

New businesses may be developed offering instruction in areas that differ from
the typical middle-school curriculum, such as cooking classes, small-business
classes, financial-investment classes, or mechanics classes.

•

Camps might consider offering outdoor experiences such as hiking, boating, or
wilderness training.

© 2012, Federal Reserve Banks of St. Louis and Philadelphia. Permission is granted to reprint or photocopy this lesson in its entirety
for educational purposes, provided the user credits the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, www.stlouisfed.org/education.

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Lesson Plan

Sojourner Truth

10. Ask the students who chose the two-years-off option to raise their hands if they have
changed their minds about the policy and would now go to school. Ask the students
who indicated they would stay in school for the two years to raise their hands if they
have changed their minds about the policy and would now stay home.
11. Explain that decisions are often made without a full understanding of the possible costs.
12. Have the student read the book Sojourner Truth, Ain’t I a Woman? and ask them to
consider unintended consequences encountered by the characters.
13. In the book, Sojourner Truth, Ain’t I a Woman?, what were some unintended consequences that resulted from the decisions made? (Answers will vary but may include
that Baumfree and Mau Mau Bett, although free, couldn’t take care of themselves or
that freed slaves had no money to make a home for themselves.)
14. Read the following excerpt from the book (page 137) and then ask the questions that
follow:
Then on January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln finally signed an
executive order ending slavery in the rebel states.
All person held as slaves within any state or designated part of a
state, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the
United States, shall be then, thenceforward and forever free.
The Emancipation Proclamation was received in the North with cheers
and tears. Church bells rang in thousands of churches. There was dancing
in the streets. Sojourner gathered with her friends in Battle Creek and celebrated with singing, cheering, and long speeches.
•

How did people react to the Emancipation Proclamation? (They cheered, cried for
joy, danced and sung, rang church bells, and made speeches.)

•

Why did abolitionists insist that Abraham Lincoln free the slaves? (Slavery is wrong.)

15. Read two paragraphs beginning on page 142 with “Parts of Washington, D.C.,
reminded Sojourner…” and ending on page 143 with “...she could do for the Bureau.”
Ask the following questions:
•

What happened to the slaves who were suddenly freed? (Many of the freed
slaves ended up in the streets with no opportunities to support themselves.)

•

Why were the freed slaves unable to support themselves? (Freed slaves had no
education, no money, and only limited skills.)

•

Why were the freed slaves uneducated? (Slave owners, for the most part, did not
allow slaves to become educated because if they were educated and could read,
they could communicate with each other more effectively and perhaps fight their
slavery together.)

© 2012, Federal Reserve Banks of St. Louis and Philadelphia. Permission is granted to reprint or photocopy this lesson in its entirety
for educational purposes, provided the user credits the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, www.stlouisfed.org/education.

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Lesson Plan

Sojourner Truth

•

Why didn’t the freed slaves have money? (Slaves weren’t paid.)

•

Why did the freed slaves have limited skills? (Slaves were mostly used as farm
workers and as domestic help, so their skills were limited to those areas.)

16. Read the next two paragraphs, beginning on page 143 with “When Sojourner heard…
” and ending with “…just outside Washington.” Ask the following questions:
•

Where did Sojourner go to help the freed slaves? (Freedman’s Village)

•

What was Freedman’s Village? (Freedman’s Village was a village of neat cottages
where freed slaves could live.)

•

If freed slaves could live in Freedman’s Village, why was there a problem with
former slaves having no place to live or crowding into tenements? (There weren’t
enough Freedman’s Villages.)

17. Instruct students to brainstorm a list of policies the government could have initiated
that would have avoided the problem of freed people moving into the cities without
support. Record the policies on the board. (Answers will vary.)
18. Tell students that you are going to read possible policy actions (which may or may
not have been mentioned previously) and that the students should suggest any consequences that might result from each policy. If students do not suggest the possible
consequences, suggest that these might be unintended consequences.

Policy
The government provides more
Freedman’s Villages.

Possible consequences
• Because of money spent on the villages, the
government must cut other services it provides.
• There are still not enough villages to
accommodate all freed people.

The government emancipates slaves
in stages.

• It is unfair that some people must wait for
freedom.
• Slave owners take further advantage of the
remaining slaves and make them work even
harder.

The government mandates that each
slave owner pay each freed slave six
months of living expenses.

• Former slave owners are voters, and freed
slaves are still not allowed to vote, so political
representatives who support the payments are
voted out of office.
• Because former slave owners must now pay their
workers, the added expense of paying living
expenses for freed slaves puts their businesses
at risk of failure. There will be fewer paying jobs
for freed slaves.

© 2012, Federal Reserve Banks of St. Louis and Philadelphia. Permission is granted to reprint or photocopy this lesson in its entirety
for educational purposes, provided the user credits the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, www.stlouisfed.org/education.

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Lesson Plan

Sojourner Truth

19. Explain that people often make decisions without anticipating possible consequences.
This also happens with local, state, and federal government.
20. Provide a slip from Handout 2: Policies and Consequences to each student, making
sure that only matched sets are handed out. Explain that half of the students have
received actual government policies and half of the students have received consequences of those government policies, written as a statement by a person affected by
the given policy. Instruct the students with consequences to find the student with the
policy that created that consequence.
21. Debrief the activity by asking the following questions of each pair of students, then
explain each law in more detail as noted:
•

What was the policy? (Students should read the policy slip.)

•

What was a possible consequence of the policy? (Students should either read or
paraphrase the quote on their slip.)

•

Was this a good policy? (Answers will vary.)

•

Rent controls that keep the monthly rent low are placed on apartments
in a given city to keep rent affordable for low-income people in that city.
Explain that in some areas of New York, there are limits on the amount of rent
landlords can charge. For the landlords, the rent they charge must be enough to
pay for the costs of (i) interior maintenance of the apartment, such as cleaning,
repairs, and painting; (ii) ongoing expenses, such as for the property mortgage,
insurance, and trash removal; and (iii) exterior maintenance of the property, such
as lawn care, painting, and building repairs. If the rent isn’t high enough to cover
these costs, landlords will not buy properties to provide for people who want or
need to rent housing. Apartment buildings will sit empty, and there will not be
enough properties to rent to the low-income people who need a place to live.
The policymakers who designed this policy may not have anticipated that there
would be a shortage of apartments.

•

The state’s minimum wage—the lowest amount an employer can pay a
worker per hour of work—increases to $9 per hour. Explain as follows: Let’s
say an employer has 10 workers and pays them each $7 per hour for a total cost
of $70 per hour. If the minimum wage increases to $9 per hour, the employer’s
cost would increase to $90 per hour. If the employer can’t afford that increase,
she might lay off two workers. In such a case, workers with few skills or young
workers are likely to lose their jobs first. Another possibility is that if two workers
quit, the employer won’t hire new ones. The policymakers who designed this
policy may not have anticipated that employers might hire fewer workers.

•

The federal government provides income for older people in the form of
Social Security. Explain that Social Security was designed to be a safety net for
older adults past a certain age who don’t have enough money to buy food and

© 2012, Federal Reserve Banks of St. Louis and Philadelphia. Permission is granted to reprint or photocopy this lesson in its entirety
for educational purposes, provided the user credits the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, www.stlouisfed.org/education.

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Lesson Plan

Sojourner Truth

pay for their other expenses. Over the years, the amount of money paid to older
adults has grown, and many people think of Social Security as their primary source
of retirement income rather than a safety net to cover unanticipated expenses.
Therefore, some people fail to save enough money for their retirement. These
people instead spend their money on goods and services when they are young
and depend on Social Security for their old-age income. The policymakers who
designed Social Security may not have anticipated people saving less because of
this government benefit.
•

The government places a quota (a limit) on the amount of steel that can
be imported. This quota protects American steelworkers’ jobs. Explain that
steelworkers complained to government representatives that steel producers from
other countries were selling steel in the United States at prices lower than U.S.
steel. When auto manufacturers buy foreign steel, U.S. steelworkers lose their
jobs. Government representatives limited the amount of steel allowed into the
United States. Limiting steel imports, however, reduces the competition for U.S.
steel producers and allows them to maintain higher prices than if they had to
compete with foreign producers. Higher-priced steel causes an increase in the price
of things made with steel, such as new cars. The representatives who designed
the policy may not have anticipated the loss of American autoworkers’ jobs.

•

The government pays people to trade in their old, gas-guzzling cars for
new, fuel-efficient cars. As part of the deal, car dealers destroy the old cars.
Explain that government representatives wanted to encourage people to buy
new cars to improve the economy. At the same time, the representatives wanted
to reduce gas consumption by reducing the number of cars that require more
gasoline per mile. When old cars were traded for news cars, the old cars were
destroyed. Because low-income people usually buy cheap used cars, however,
many of the cars they would have purchased were destroyed in the government
program. The price of the remaining used cars increased. The representatives who
voted for this policy may not have anticipated that the policy would increase the
price of used cars.

•

State governments pass laws requiring child-care businesses with more
than four children enrolled to have a license. This law includes people who
run child-care businesses in their homes. Explain that some state governments
require that child-care businesses be licensed. To receive a license, child-care businesses must limit the number of children cared for by one person. By limiting the
number of children that can be cared for, the amount of child care available in a
community is less than it would be if there were higher limits, or no limits at all.
The reduction in the number of child-care slots makes each available slot more
expensive and increases the price parents must pay for child care. The representatives who voted for the limitation may not have anticipated that fewer child-care
slots would increase the price of care and make it difficult for some people to
afford child care.

© 2012, Federal Reserve Banks of St. Louis and Philadelphia. Permission is granted to reprint or photocopy this lesson in its entirety
for educational purposes, provided the user credits the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, www.stlouisfed.org/education.

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Lesson Plan

Sojourner Truth

•

After an oil spill, many states enact unlimited liability laws on oil tankers.
Unlimited liability means that there is no limit to the amount of money
companies must pay for damages that result from an oil spill. Explain that
with no limits on the amount of money an oil company might have to pay if it
damages the environment by spilling oil, some oil companies are unwilling to use
their tankers to carry oil. However, the oil must be carried if the nation is going
to have gasoline and heating oil. So, some oil companies hire small tanker firms
that are willing to take the risk of transporting oil but do not have the money to
have a fleet of well-maintained tankers. Such a practice could increase the chances
of having a spill. The representatives who voted for unlimited liability laws may
not have anticipated that large oil companies would have small tanker companies
carry oil.

•

The government passes a law limiting how much money banks can
charge store owners for letting customers use debit cards. Explain that store
owners want to accept debit cards for payments of goods and services because
so many customers carry debit cards instead of cash. However, store owners complained that the fees banks charged them for accepting debit cards were too high.
Some policymakers agreed with store owners, so a law was passed that reduced
the fee store owners are charged. Because banks now receive far less revenue,
they are looking for other fees to charge or increase to make up the difference.
The representatives who voted to limit debit card fees may not have anticipated
increases in other bank fees.

•

The government declares the red-cockaded woodpecker, which nests in
old-growth pines, a protected species. This declaration means that the
birds’ nests may not be disturbed. Explain that since the rule was enacted,
owners of land that might attract the birds have been cutting down the trees so
that the woodpeckers cannot build a nest. If no birds can be found on the land,
the government cannot prohibit timber farmers from cutting down trees and selling the wood. However, if the woodpeckers are found on the land, the timber
producers would be prohibited from cutting the trees. The representatives who
voted for this law may not have anticipated that the law would actually further
reduce the woodpeckers’ habitat.

•

To raise revenue, a city increases its parking meter and city-owned lot
fees by 100 percent. Explain that parking fees can bring in a lot of money to
city governments and that money can be used to pay for city services, such as
police or streets. Sales taxes from businesses also generate income for cities. If
people do not come to the stores, the stores will fail to generate sales-tax revenue
for cities. The representatives who voted to raise parking fees may not have
anticipated that sales-tax revenue would fall or that business owners would not
make as much money.

•

Policymakers encourage the production of ethanol, a biofuel made from
corn, as a cleaner alternative to gasoline. Explain that in 2008, a worldwide

© 2012, Federal Reserve Banks of St. Louis and Philadelphia. Permission is granted to reprint or photocopy this lesson in its entirety
for educational purposes, provided the user credits the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, www.stlouisfed.org/education.

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Lesson Plan

Sojourner Truth

corn shortage was blamed for the increase in food prices. Companies that produce
ethanol, a fuel made from corn, were trying to buy corn from farmers. At the
same time, food producers were also trying to buy corn from farmers. The competition for corn made the price of corn increase. The representatives who encouraged the production of ethanol may not have anticipated increased corn prices.
22. Explain that people can take different sides on a policy, with some people feeling that
the benefits from the policy outweigh the costs. Other people will feel that the cost is
too great for the benefit received. When there are unintended consequences, people
who supported the policy before the unintended consequences were known might
change their minds, thinking that the known costs and unintended consequences outweigh the benefits.

Closure
23. Relate the following story: In 1867, the United States bought the territory of Alaska
from Russia for $7.2 million, approximately 2.5 cents per acre. The purchase was conducted by Secretary of State William H. Seward. Seward’s goal in purchasing the territory was to increase the size and military stance of the United States. The purchase
was widely criticized and became known as “Seward’s Folly,” but in the 1890s, large
amounts of gold were discovered in Alaska.
24. Ask the following questions:
•

What are costs? (Costs are things unfavorable to a decisionmaker.)

•

What was the cost of the United States purchasing the territory of Alaska?
($7.2 million; other government purchases that could be made with $7.2 million)

•

What are benefits? (Benefits are things that are favorable to a decisionmaker.)

•

What was the benefit of the government purchasing Alaska? (The United States
obtained more territory.)

•

Why did the U.S. government purchase the territory of Alaska? (The government
made the purchase to increase the size and military stance of the United States.)

•

How did people react to the purchase? (Some criticized the purchase and called
it Seward’s Folly, which meant it was believed a foolish purchase.)

•

What are unintended consequences? (Unintended consequences are unforeseen
costs or benefits.)

•

What was an unintended consequence of the United States purchasing the
territory of Alaska? (Large amounts of gold were discovered in Alaska.)

•

Was this a positive or negative unintended consequence? (This was a positive
consequence.)

© 2012, Federal Reserve Banks of St. Louis and Philadelphia. Permission is granted to reprint or photocopy this lesson in its entirety
for educational purposes, provided the user credits the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, www.stlouisfed.org/education.

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Lesson Plan

Sojourner Truth

Assessment
25. Distribute Handout 3: Assessment. Explain that students are to read the story and
answer the questions. Review student answers.
Handout 3: Assessment Answer Key
•

What was the problem in Littleville? (The town did not have a sewage treatment
facility so the sewage went directly into the river, causing pollution.)

•

What action did the town leaders take to solve the problem? (The town leaders
decided to build a sewage treatment facility.)

•

What was the cost of the action? (The citizens had to give up twice-weekly trash
collection and have trash collected only twice a month.)

•

What was the benefit of the action? (The river was clean.)

•

Describe any unintended consequences resulting from the action. (Tourists came
to Littleville to float on the river. Businesses developed and grew. The town got
more tax revenue to offer services, including frequent trash collection, street
cleaning, and a swimming pool.)

© 2012, Federal Reserve Banks of St. Louis and Philadelphia. Permission is granted to reprint or photocopy this lesson in its entirety
for educational purposes, provided the user credits the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, www.stlouisfed.org/education.

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Lesson Plan

Sojourner Truth

Handout 1: Schedule of the Perfect Day

The Perfect Day
TIME

ACTIVITY

8:00-9:00 a.m.
9:00-10:00 a.m.
10:00-11:00 a.m.
11:00-noon
Noon-1:00 p.m.
1:00-2:00 p.m.
2:00-3:00 p.m.
3:00-4:00 p.m.
4:00-5:00 p.m.
5:00-6:00 p.m.
6:00-7:00 p.m.
7:00-8:00 p.m.
8:00-9:00 p.m.
9:00-10:00 p.m.

© 2012, Federal Reserve Banks of St. Louis and Philadelphia. Permission is granted to reprint or photocopy this lesson in its entirety
for educational purposes, provided the user credits the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, www.stlouisfed.org/education.

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Lesson Plan

Sojourner Truth

Handout 2: Policies and Consequences (page 1 of 2)

Policy
Rent controls that keep the monthly rent
low are placed on apartments in a given
city to keep rent affordable for low-income
people in that city.

Consequence
“I can’t find an apartment to rent. Landlords say they can’t earn enough money
from rent to pay for the upkeep.”

Policy
The state’s minimum wage—the lowest
amount an employer can pay a worker
per hour of work—increases to $9.00 per
hour.

Consequence
“I can’t find a job. I don’t have any work
experience and no one is willing to pay me
$9.00 per hour.”

Policy
The federal government provides income
for older people in the form of Social
Security.

Consequence
“I probably should save more money for
my retirement, but I really want a boat,
and I’ll have retirement income through
Social Security.”

Policy
The government places a quota (a limit) on
the amount of steel that can be imported.
This quota protects American steelworkers’
jobs.

Consequence
“I’ve been an autoworker for 15 years. Can
you believe I just got laid off? Steel got so
expensive, the price of American cars went
up. Now, nobody is buying American
cars.”

Policy
The government pays people to trade in
their old, gas-guzzling cars for new, fuelefficient cars. As part of the deal, car dealers
destroy the old cars.

Consequence
“I need a car to get back and forth to
work, but I can’t find any good, used cars
that I can afford.”

Policy
State governments pass laws requiring childcare businesses with more than four children
enrolled to have a license. This law includes
people who run child-care businesses in
their homes.

Consequence
“I start my job on Monday, and I still don’t
know where the kids will go. The child-care
homes I can afford are full.”

© 2012, Federal Reserve Banks of St. Louis and Philadelphia. Permission is granted to reprint or photocopy this lesson in its entirety
for educational purposes, provided the user credits the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, www.stlouisfed.org/education.

13

Lesson Plan

Sojourner Truth

Handout 2: Policies and Consequences (page 2 of 2)

Consequence

Policy
After an oil spill, many states enact unlimited liability laws on oil tankers. Unlimited
liability means that there is no limit to the
amount of money companies must pay for
damages that result from an oil spill.

“Did you read the news today? There was an
oil spill off the coast. Some rusty, old tanker
sprang a leak. The article said that the large oil
companies have stronger tankers and better
insurance but instead hire smaller companies
to carry their oil.”

Policy
The government passes a law limiting how
much money banks can charge store
owners for letting customers use debit
cards.

Consequence
“It’s hard to find a checking account that
doesn’t charge a fee. Banks say they are
losing money on debit cards, so they’re
charging fees on other stuff.”

Policy
The government declared the red-cockaded
woodpecker, which nests in old-growth
pines, a protected species. This declaration
means that the birds’ nests may not be
disturbed.

Consequence
“I’m cutting down those pine trees before
those woodpeckers have a chance to nest.
Once they build nests, I’ll never be able to
harvest the trees.”

Policy
To raise revenue, a city increases its parking meter and city-owned lot fees by 100
percent.

Consequence
“I’m not shopping downtown anymore;
parking is too expensive.”

Policy
Policymakers encourage the production of
ethanol, a biofuel made from corn, as a
cleaner alternative to gasoline.

Consequence
“Wow, I can’t believe how much my
grocery bill has increased. I heard the corn
shortage is making food more expensive.”

© 2012, Federal Reserve Banks of St. Louis and Philadelphia. Permission is granted to reprint or photocopy this lesson in its entirety
for educational purposes, provided the user credits the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, www.stlouisfed.org/education.

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Lesson Plan

Sojourner Truth

Handout 3: Assessment
Littleville was a river town consisting of farmers, a few merchants supplying goods and
services, a few churches, a police station, a courthouse, and a community hall. All the people
worked hard to earn money, but the money in the town simply circulated among the townspeople, with the merchants and city workers buying food from the farmers, the farmers
buying goods and services from the merchants, and the farmers and merchants paying
taxes, which paid the city workers. The town was poor, with little prospect for growth.
The city also had a sewage service. Each house had a sewer pipe that joined a larger pipe
under the street. Each of the street pipes was connected to an even larger pipe that carried
the waste to the river. And, that was the end of the line. The waste dumped directly into the
river. Over time, the river became more and more polluted. Several town members, sickened
by the foul river, urged Littleville leaders to build a sewage treatment facility, but the leaders
said they would not spend the town’s limited money on sewage; there were more important
services to provide, like twice-weekly trash collection. After all, it was a very poor town.
However, over time, the cry from Littleville residents grew louder: “Fix our polluted river!”
So, the town leaders reduced trash collection to twice each month and used the money
saved to build a sewage treatment plant. Soon, the river water was clean and clear. And
then, an amazing thing happened. People began to visit Littleville to float on the river. Canoe
rental shops opened. Raft stores opened. Restaurants opened. Suddenly, Littleville was full
of tourists and the tourists’ money! All of the merchants had more customers, earned more
money, and paid more taxes! In no time at all, Littleville could afford street cleaning, a town
swimming pool, a new police car, and twice-weekly trash collection!
•

What was the problem in Littleville?

•

What action did the town leaders take to solve the problem?

•

What was the cost of the action?

•

What was the benefit of the action?

•

Describe any unintended consequences resulting from the action.

© 2012, Federal Reserve Banks of St. Louis and Philadelphia. Permission is granted to reprint or photocopy this lesson in its entirety
for educational purposes, provided the user credits the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, www.stlouisfed.org/education.

15

Lesson Plan

Sojourner Truth

Standards and Benchmarks
National Standards in Economics
Standard 1: Productive resources are limited. Therefore, people cannot have all the goods
and services they want; as a result, they must choose some things and give up others.
•

Benchmark 3, Grade 8: The choices people make have both present and future
consequences.

•

Benchmark 4, Grade 8: The evaluation of choices and opportunity costs is
subjective; such evaluations differ across individuals and societies.

Standard 3: Different methods can be used to allocate goods and services. People acting
individually or collectively most choose which methods to use to allocate different kinds of
goods and services.
•

Benchmark 1, Grade 8: Scarcity requires the use of some distribution method to
allocate goods, services, and resources, whether the method is selected explicitly
or not.

Common Core State Standards, English Language Arts
Reading: Literature, Grades 4-6
•

Key Ideas and Details
RL.4.1, RL.5.1, RL.6.1: Cite textual evidence to support analysis of what the text
says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
RL.4.2, RL.5.2, RL.6.2: Determine a theme or central idea of a text and how it is
conveyed through particular details; provide a summary of the text distinct from
personal opinions or judgments.

Speaking and Listening
•

Comprehension and Collaboration, Grade 5
SL.5.1: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one,
in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 5 topics and texts,
building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.
SL.5.1a: Come to discussions prepared, having read or studied required
material; explicitly draw on that preparation and other information known
about the topic to explore ideas under discussion.
SL.5.1b: Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions and carry out assigned
roles.
SL.5.1c: Pose and respond to specific questions by making comments that
contribute to the discussion and elaborate on the remarks of others.
SL.5.1d: Review the key ideas expressed and draw conclusions in light of
information and knowledge gained from the discussions.

© 2012, Federal Reserve Banks of St. Louis and Philadelphia. Permission is granted to reprint or photocopy this lesson in its entirety
for educational purposes, provided the user credits the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, www.stlouisfed.org/education.

16


Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, One Federal Reserve Bank Plaza, St. Louis, MO 63102