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The Ledger
Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s Economic Education Newsletter

In this issue
1 …Ask a Busy Person
4 U.S. Mint Launches
50 State Quarters
5 Productivity: Getting
More Out of Something
Than You Put Into It
6 “Worth a Thousand
9 Educators’ Update
10 Tool Box
11 A Question of

…Ask a Busy Person
Boston Chapter of Financial
Executives Institute Finds Time
for Economic Education
by Bob Jabaily

Spring 1999

one that was well designed. So, they did what most
intelligent people would do: They looked for help.
And they found it in the first place they looked – the
Boston University School of Education.
According to Walt Pressey, Chairman of the FEI
Special Events Committee and Executive Vice
President and CFO at Boston Private Financial

The Boston Chapter of the Financial

Holdings, Inc., the timing for a productive partner-

Executives Institute (FEI) proves the old adage, “If

ship between FEI and Boston University could not

you want something done, ask a busy person.” Its

have been better. The Massachusetts Board of

1,000-plus members are among the busiest people in

Education had decided to require that 15 percent of

Greater Boston, yet they always find time to work on

the social studies curriculum be devoted to economics

issues that make a difference in the world outside

and had included economics in its comprehensive

their offices.

testing of students in grades 4, 8, and 10. Teachers

A prime example is FEI-Boston’s long-standing

faced the daunting task of teaching something for

commitment to economic education – a commitment

which many of them had no formal training or mate-

that began in the 1970s with summer workshops for

rials. Pressey says Boston University recognized the

Massachusetts teachers. Over time, the summer

problem and was delighted to help.

workshops evolved into a comprehensive year-round

Under the direction of Dr. Robert Sperber,

effort that now includes curriculum development,

Professor of Education at Boston University, and Dr.

teacher training, a scholarship fund, and achievement

Lal Chugh, Professor of Accounting and Finance at

awards to recognize the efforts of outstanding stu-

University of Massachusetts-Boston and Chairman

dents and teachers.

of the FEI Academic Relations Committee, the

The expanded program began to take shape in
1994, when FEI decided to transform its annual golf
tournament from a purely social activity into a

FEI/BU initiative focused on three main objectives:
1. Identify existing resources to incorporate into
a core economics curriculum;

fundraiser to support economic education. Money

2. Develop new curriculum materials for use

from the 1994 tournament paid for a multimedia eco-

in elementary schools, middle schools, and

nomics program developed jointly by the Plan for

high schools;

Excellence in the Boston Public Schools and teachers

3. Recruit and train teachers to pilot the

at Boston Latin School – the oldest and one of the

materials at six Boston schools – two

most highly regarded public schools in America.
FEI and the Plan for Excellence originally in-

elementary schools, two middle schools, and
two high schools.

tended to develop a “grass roots” economic education

The project’s ultimate goal was to help teachers

program at Boston Latin and transplant it to other

implement the FEI/BU curriculum and then test stu-

schools. But they hit a snag when they discovered

dents to measure the change in their knowledge of

that there was not enough academic support for


teachers to implement a pre-packaged program, even

“The curriculum development model we are
The Ledger • Spring 1999


The Ledger
Bob Jabaily, Editor
Research Department
Federal Reserve Bank
of Boston
P.O. Box 2076
Boston, MA
Or phone:
(617) 973-3452
This newsletter is published
three times a year as a public
service by the Federal Reserve
Bank of Boston. The reporting of
news about economic education
programs and the materials
contained herein do not necessarily reflect the views of the
Federal Reserve Bank of Boston
or the Board of Governors.
Copies of this newsletter and a
catalog of other educational
materials and research publications may be obtained free of
charge by writing:
Research Department
Federal Reserve Bank
of Boston
P.O. Box 2076
Boston, MA

William Swanson (left), CFO of Bose Corporation, and Dr. Lal Chugh, Chairman of the Accounting
and Finance Department at University of Massachusetts-Boston, present an FEI scholarship to
Nicole Lecuyer. Ms. Lecuyer, a student at Stonehill College, was selected as one of FEI’s
“Outstanding Junior Year Students” for 1998. “Through our commitment to economic education,”
says Dr. Chugh, “FEI hopes to enhance economic literacy and prepare students to function in the
global economic system.”

using,” notes Professor Sperber, “was first introduced

By early 1999, the FEI/BU initiative had pro-

by the Boston University School of Education into

gressed to the point where teachers from the pilot

the Chelsea schools in the fields of mathematics and

project in Boston were reflecting on their experiences


literacy. Experts develop the first part of the cur-

and preparing to expand the program to schools in

riculum and teach it to other teachers, who try it out

Boston University’s Greater Boston Consortium,

in their classrooms. These pilot teachers then add

which includes Boston, Brookline, Chelsea, Concord,

their own instructional lessons and serve as master

Lexington, Newton, and Somerville.


teachers who teach it to other teachers.”

And that is only the beginning. “By expanding

Day-to-day executive responsibility for imple-

to other schools, we eventually plan to reach thou-

menting the objectives and making the project’s goal

sands of other teachers in New England,” says

a reality fell to Boston University Professor Stephen

Professor Sperber. ”And with the help of grants from

Ellenwood. Professor Ellenwood assembled the cur-

private and government sources, we hope to estab-

riculum development team, recruited teachers for the

lish a Center for Economic Education at the School

pilot program, and directed the teacher training

of Education, which can expand economic education

classes. Bentley College Professor Colin Young was

throughout the nation.”

recruited to oversee the project’s evaluation and monitoring components.

FEI’s Walt Pressey is firmly convinced that the
partnership between FEI and Boston University has

yielded rewards to everyone involved. “Initial trepi-

building bridges to classroom teachers.

dation at the enormity of the task has yielded to a

Pressey is also quick to acknowledge the efforts

sense of enthusiasm. People have become believers,”

of Burdette Johnson and Junior Achievement.

he says.

Johnson has been a strong proponent of economic ed-

Pressey attributes the program’s success, in

ucation for most of his 90-plus years, and his 45-year

part, to FEI’s “people-to-people” approach. He says

involvement with Junior Achievement has helped to

FEI tries to forge links to good people who won’t be

form the basis for a productive partnership with FEI.

frightened by a challenge.
One of those people is Cathy
Minehan, President of the Federal
Reserve Bank of Boston.


Pressey first began to assemble a
program evaluation team, he went
to the Boston Fed President because he knew she was someone
who cared deeply about economic
education and also recognized the
importance of demonstrating measurable outcomes. “Cathy thought

Pressey attributes the program’s success,
in part, to FEI’s
“people-to-people” approach.
He says FEI tries to forge links
to good people who won’t be frightened
by a challenge.

the project sounded like a great
idea,” recalls Pressey, “and she suggested that we coordinate our efforts with the Boston

The two organizations sponsor a program to recog-

Fed’s existing economic education program.”

nize outstanding teachers, and FEI members support

As a result of the meeting, two Federal Reserve
staff members are now contributing their expertise to

Junior Achievement’s economic education programs
in local classrooms.

the FEI/BU project. Sue Rodburg, an Assistant Vice

Yet another FEI initiative highlights the

President with an extensive background in economic

accomplishments of “Outstanding Senior Year

education, serves on FEI’s Program Evaluation

Students” majoring in accounting, finance, or
economics at area colleges and

Committee. And Economic

universities. “Outstanding Junior

Wedge, who was one of Steve

Year Students” in those disci-

Ellenwood’s standout pupils at

plines receive FEI scholarships.



In short, the very busy

Boston University, acts as primary contact to the Boston Fed’s





economic education program.

Chapter are finding time to do the

Long-time economic edu-

things that make a community

cation advocate George Watson

more than just a good place to do

is another person who has con-

business. But as Walt Pressey

tributed to the FEI/BU project,

points out, they are also getting

helping to develop its middle

something in return – the satis-

school curriculum component

faction that comes from knowing

and serving as liaison to the

they are accomplishing something

National Council on Economic

worthwhile. “It’s been invigo-

Education. Pressey says Watson’s breadth of experi-

rating to see that we are having an effect,” says

ence has proved enormously beneficial, particularly

Pressey with the characteristic understatement of a

when it comes to pinpointing useful resources and

Boston banker.
The Ledger • Spring 1999


U.S. Mint Launches 50 State Quarters Program
You can learn a lot from looking at the back of a quarter
Next time you try to settle a disagreement with

rich diversity of their national heritage.” But

the flip of a quarter, you could be in for a surprise. The

Congress hopes the redesigned quarters will also en-

twenty-five-cent piece took on a new look in January

courage “young people and their families to collect

1999 when the United States Mint launched its 50

memorable tokens of all the states.”

State Quarters Program.

Collecting the new quarters will be inexpen-

The eagle, which has graced the reverse side

sive and hassle-free – no fees or commissions and no

of the quarter since 1932, has temporarily left its

special ordering. The U.S. Mints in Philadelphia and

perch to make way for a series of new designs to

Denver will produce them and ship them to the

commemorate each of the 50 states. The ten-year

Federal Reserve Banks, which will supply them to

program began with designs to honor Delaware,

banks and thrift institutions throughout the country.



(The new quarters are NOT directly available from

Pennsylvania – the first five states to ratify the U.S.

the Federal Reserve.) To acquire a complete set of

Constitution. It will draw to a close in 2008 with de-

the new quarters, collectors need only stay alert and

signs commemorating Oklahoma, New Mexico,

watch their pocket change over the ten-year life of




Arizona, Alaska, and Hawaii – the last five states
to enter the Union.
The 50 State Quarters Program is
intended to “promote the diffusion of

the program.
To find out more about the 50 State
Quarters Program, visit the U.S. Mint Web site at

knowledge among the youth of the
United States about the individual
states, their history, geography, and the

Delaware The First State
Issue Date: January 1999
Delaware honors Caesar Rodney, known for
his historic ride to cast the tie-breaking vote
in favor of independence.

Pennsylvania The Keystone State
Issue Date: March 1999
Symbolizing the state’s founding principles,
the figure of “Commonwealth” is shown
against the outline of Pennsylvania, a keystone, and the state motto.

New Jersey The Garden State
Issue Date: May 1999
New Jersey honors George Washington, who
led the Colonial Army to victory at Trenton.

Georgia The Empire State of the South
Issue Date: August 1999
The Georgia quarter depicts the famous
Georgia peach bordered by oak sprigs and a
banner that bears the state motto.

Connecticut The Constitution State
Issue Date: October 1999
When King James II demanded the surrender
of Connecticut’s colonial charter, Captain
Joseph Wadsworth hid it inside a majestic
white oak. “The Charter Oak” symbolizes
Connecticut’s spirit of independence.

Spring 1999 • The Ledger

Getting More Out of Something Than You Put Into It
Productivity is usually expressed as a ratio of
input to output. Labor hours and cropland are “inputs.” New automobiles and peaches are “outputs.”
When people use the term “productivity,” they
usually mean “labor productivity” – the output for a
given amount of time at work. If, for example,
someone figures out how to make a toaster in one hour
instead of two, productivity in toasters is said to
Why does productivity matter? Because our capacity to produce has a major impact on our overall
standard of living.
The 19th century offers a prime example. New
technology and better production techniques during
those years led to a rise in industrial output that
helped to boost real incomes. Or, to put it another way,
workers saw their buying power increase when mass
production made more goods available at lower prices.
And because their incomes went further, people could
gradually afford to work fewer hours. A shorter work
week and more stuff at cheaper prices – sounds like a
pretty good non-technical definition for “higher standard of living.”
Measuring productivity, however, is not an exact

Working on
When it comes to economics, one of the challenges a
teacher faces is identifying the major concepts. The
National Council on Economic Education had this concern
in mind when it developed A Framework for Teaching
Basic Economic Concepts. (Visit the National
Council’s web site at
Each issue of The Ledger highlights a Framework
concept. The last issue looked at “Opportunity Cost and
Trade-offs.” This time, it’s “Productivity.”
Excerpts for this piece were taken from:
• “Stuck on Productivity,” an article by Susan Schact
in the Summer 1992 issue of Regional Review,
published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, and
• “A Brave New World? The Productivity Puzzle,” an
article by Kevin Kliesen in the January 1998 issue
of The Regional Economist, published by the
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
Both magazines feature well-written, non-technical
articles that could form the nucleus of an economics
lesson for secondary school students or college
undergraduates. For a free subscription, contact:

science. A tractor eases the farmer’s burden; a power-

apples and oranges,” so you can’t use physical output

Regional Review
Research Library-D
Federal Reserve Bank of Boston
P.O. Box 2076
Boston, MA 02106-2076
Phone: (617) 973-3397
Web site:

to measure productivity among a variety of goods and


driven loom speeds clothmaking. But pinpointing productivity growth across the economy is a gargantuan
task, and official statistics are rough indeed.
Strictly speaking, productivity measures physical output for an hour of labor. But you can’t “mix

Statisticians at the U.S. Bureau of Labor
Statistics (BLS) have devised a method to compensate for the problem. They take the dollar value of the
economy’s annual output, adjust for inflation, and divide by the total number of hours worked. But nearly
everyone would agree that the official productivity

The Regional Economist
Public Affairs Office
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
P.O. Box 442
St. Louis, MO 63166
Phone: (314) 444-8809
Web site:

figure is more of a rough gauge than a precise measure.

The Ledger • Spring 1999


“Worth a Thousand Words”
Anyone who has ever spent time

From the Old School

The photos on these pages offer a

looking at old photos knows how vaguely un-

Education is a balancing act. There is

glimpse of how schools tried to cope with the

settling the experience can be. The people,

always a tension between preserving the old

educational uncertainties of the 1890s. Shop

frozen for all time in a single instant of work

and adapting to the new.

class, home economics, gym class, and book-

or play, have a way of drawing us into their

It is a concern that was very much on

world. Their eyes look out at us from across

the minds of late-19th century American ed-

the years, and we can’t help but wonder if

ucators. More than sixty years of industrial de-

their dreams and fears were at all like ours.

velopment and urban growth had drastically

“Worth a Thousand Words” uses the

altered traditional patterns of living and

power of archival photos and prints to take

working. Then, as now, public schools did

a backward glance at economic life in New

their best to prepare students for a world in

England. This first installment focuses on

which change seemed to be the only constant.

keeping – it’s all here for you to see and enjoy.

All photos by A.H. Folsom
Courtesy of Boston Public Library,
Print Department

school life in Boston during the 1890s.

Student Bank, English High School – 1892
Historian Benjamin Rader notes that, “By 1910 there were eight times as many clerks, professional men (such as accountants, lawyers, and engineers), salespersons, and lower management personnel in corporations as there had been
in 1870.” Educators faced the task of preparing students to meet the rising demand for white-collar workers.
6 Spring 1999 • The Ledger

Home Economics Class,
H.L. Pierce School – circa 1892-93

Shop Class, Dwight School
– circa 1892-93
Economic change was beginning to have an impact on gender roles and traditional
patterns of living. But the prevailing philosophy of the times still held that a girl
should be prepared to manage a household, and a boy ought to be “handy, ” even
if he planned to earn his living in an office.

Girls Gym Class,
Charlestown High School – 1893.
The term “couch potato” would
not enter the language for another 100 years, but late-19th
century Americans worried that
urban life and sedentary work
were having an adverse effect on
health and fitness.


Fed Challenge 99 Winners from Choate Rosemary Hall
(L to R) Rory Cahill, Aaron Painter, Lee Bressler, FRB President Cathy Minehan,
Katharine Zandy, Dennis Kitt, Ted Newman, and teacher Ted Hartsoe

Fed Challenge 99

Economic Education
The National Council on Economic
Education, a nonprofit partnership
of leaders in education, business,
and labor, has worked to foster
economic education since 1949.
EconomicsAmerica, the Council’s
teacher training affiliate, provides
training and support to more than
120,000 teachers a year.
To find out more about the
EconomicsAmerica affiliates in
New England, contact:

Maine Council on Economic Education
P.O. Box 9715-159
Portland, ME 04104-5015
Phone: (207) 780-5926
Fax: (207) 780-5282
Economic Education Council of
Bridgewater State College

For the second year in a row, students

Bridgewater, MA 02325
Phone: (508) 279-6125

from Choate Rosemary Hall (Wallingford,
CT) won the Federal Reserve Bank of
Boston’s regional Fed Challenge tourna-

Rhode Island Council on Economic
Rhode Island College
Providence, RI 02908
Phone: (401) 456-8037
Fax: (401) 456-8851

ment. Rory Cahill, Aaron Painter, Lee
Bressler, Katharine Zandy, Dennis Kitt, Ted
Newman, and teacher Ted Hartsoe will
travel to Washington, D.C. to represent the
First Federal Reserve District in the national
Fed Challenge competition on May 2-3.

If you live outside New England and
would like to find out how to contact
the EconomicsAmerica affiliate in
your area, visit the National Council
on Economic Education Web site at or write to:

National Council on Economic
1140 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10036

The Fed Challenge is an economic
competition for teams of high school
students who study current U.S. economic
conditions and then present analyses and
recommendations for interest rate policy.
The students’ work mirrors the work of the
Federal Reserve System’s Open Market
Committee, which is responsible for U.S.
continued on page 12
The Ledger • Spring 1999









years from 1913 to the present

But who sits on the

and is so easy to use that even

committee? How often

Facts & Trivia



does it meet? What is a

won’t have any problems. Just

typical meeting like?

This site is a bonanza for anyone in-

Wise #1
Bureau of Engraving and Printing


select the years you want to

What does the FOMC

terested in money trivia. Here is a sampling



focus on, and how does it

of what you can learn:

amount, click on the “calcu-

implement its monetary

late” button, and within a

policy decisions? Even

antique cars on the back of

matter of seconds you’re

former “straight-A” stu-

the $10 note? ANSWER:

looking at a number that will

dents are a little fuzzy on

They are generic old cars

help you decide if a car or a

the details.

– no particular make and

burger really was cheaper in

• What is the make and model of the




1965 or 1949.

Sound like you?
Fear not. An article in the December 1998

• How long would

By the way, the chrome-laden

issue of On Reserve, the Federal Reserve

it take to spend 10 billion

Pontiac that sold for $5,000 in

Bank of Chicago’s economic education

$1 notes at the rate of

1965 would have cost

newsletter, will fill the gaps in your FOMC.

one note per second?

$25,857.14 in 1998 – and

The piece, which is based on a speech by

ANSWER: 317 years

that’s without the safety

Federal Reserve Governor Laurence

• What is the

features, pollution control equipment,

Meyer, begins with background on the his-

average life of a $5

and state-of-the-art sound system available

tory and structure of the FOMC and then

note? ANSWER: 2 years

on today’s cars.

offers an insightful look at what happens

• What is the origin of the “$” sign?
ANSWER: Check out the site, and find out
for yourself.
The site is packed with fun stuff.

Wise #2
Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis
“What Is a Dollar Worth?”
When kids look at a vintage advertisement, they often marvel at the prices.
(“Wow! Cars were so cheap in those days.”)
But were cars or houses or hamburgers really
cheaper way back when?

during a typical FOMC meeting. (The

all about it!
“Come with Me to the FOMC, Part I”
On Reserve
Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
December 1998
newsletter –
free subscription
When interest rates go
up or down, it is usually in response to an FOMC decision.
Great! What is the FOMC?
The letters stand for



Committee – the Federal

“What is a dollar worth?” is a great tool

Reserve group that’s respon-

for calculating and comparing how prices

sible for determining the

have changed over the years. It covers the

course of monetary policy.

10 Spring 1999 • The Ledger

Spring 1999 issue of On Reserve completes
the story with “Come with Me to the
FOMC, Part II – The Decision.”)
For a free subscription to On Reserve,
write to: On Reserve,
Public Affairs Department, Federal Reserve
Bank of Chicago, P.O.
Box 834, Chicago, IL
60690-0834, or check





of E c o n o m i c s

The kids are savvy enough to know
that strong demand coupled with a short
supply usually signals a price increase, and
higher prices usually serve as an incentive to
increase production. So why did Furby’s
manufacturer, Tiger Electronics, keep the
toy’s retail price at $29 when frantic parents
would have paid much more? And why
didn’t the company make a larger quantity?
The nature of the toy business holds
part of the answer.
More than fifty percent of all toy sales
are squeezed into the fourth quarter –
October, November, December – so toy
manufacturers face a tough choice: 1) set
production levels high and risk being stuck
with a big unsold inventory, or 2) set conservative production levels and risk not

A Question of Economics focuses on questions
related to economics in everyday life. Anyone can
submit a question – students, teachers, anyone at all.
And the question need not be complicated. In fact,
the more it pertains to daily life, the better.

Send your questions to:
Robert Jabaily, Editor
The Ledger
Research Department
Federal Reserve Bank of Boston
P.O. Box 2076
Boston, MA 02106-2076
FAX: (617) 973-3957

“Why did the company
that made Furbies
charge only $29 and
make only a very
limited number of
them? What were they
trying to accomplish?”

having enough toys to sell during the holiday
One of the ways they decide on production levels is by going to the Toy Fair.
Every February, more than 1,600 manufacturers, distributors, importers, and sales
agents from 30 countries make their way to
New York for the American International
Toy Fair. By the time the fair ends, people
in the toy trade have a pretty good idea

Let’s start with a little background information for anyone who spent December

which toys will be hot for the holidays.
continued on page 12

1998 on another planet. Furby is a toy that
speaks a dialect all its own – Furbish –
and has the programmed capability to

If we use your question, we’ll send you a
bag of shredded money for each person in your
class (limit 35).

“learn” English. Not only that, but it
is cute, too.
Cuddly technology at an affordable price – no wonder Furby was the

The question in this issue comes from Ms.

hottest selling toy of the 1998 holiday

Florence Poor’s fourth graders at the Hastings

shopping season and the source of high

School in Lexington, Massachusetts.

parental anxiety. By Thanksgiving, the
furry little chatterbox was so scarce that
desperate parents were patrolling
cyberspace in search of “black market”
Which brings us back to
the questions from Ms. Poor’s
fourth graders.
The Ledger • Spring 1999


Fed Challenge 99
continued from page 11

monetary policy.

A Question of Economics
continued from page 11

Based on reactions at the 1998 Toy

meet the holiday demand.

Twenty-one high schools fielded

Fair, Tiger Electronics had a strong hunch

Nor did raising prices make much

teams in this year’s First District Fed

that Furby was going to be a winner. The

sense at that point because Furby had all but

Challenge competition. The five that made

company decided to produce more than two

disappeared from store shelves. The risk of

it to the regional finals were: Buckingham,

million units, which, according to the Toy

losing customer goodwill probably out-

Browne & Nichols School, Cambridge, MA,

Manufacturers of America, is actually on the

weighed the monetary gain from a mid-hol-

Choate Rosemary Hall, Wallingford, CT;

high side for a toy that is new to the market.

iday season price increase – especially since

Hopkinton High School, Contoocook, NH;

More than two million units should

Tiger Electronics had precious few Furbies

Lewiston High School, Lewiston, ME; and

have been enough, but Furby turned out to

Winchester High School, Winchester, MA.

be a bigger phenomenon than anyone could

Besides, the affordable price is what

have predicted. The toy hit the market in

helped to make Furby popular in the first

left to ship.

September 1998, and by mid-November

place. At $29, parents were able to buy more

parents were staging all-night vigils in toy

than one – if they were lucky enough to find

store parking lots. Of course, by then there

the little critters.

was not enough time to boost production to

The Ledger
Research Department
Federal Reserve Bank of Boston
600 Atlantic Avenue
P.O. Box 2076
Boston, MA 02106-2076
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