STAFF EDITORIAL: The Evolution of the Consumer Education Credit

LRM: a class that always was part of the past and present, but should it remain part of District 117’s future?

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Graphic by Shane Sorensen

Think about this: Superfan Stan lands his first job sophomore year and is required to fill out a W-4 form, but does not know how to because he didn’t take Life Resource Management yet. Senior year, Stan is saving for college and now needs to keep track of the balance on his account; he just finished LRM, so he knows how to do it. It’s ten years after high school and a button falls from Stan’s shirt, but because Stan took LRM, he knows how to sew it back. Over the years, LRM became enthralled in a school-wide culture war because students and staff continue to debate whether or not the class is real- ly necessary. This war-like debate derives from the frustration many LRM students feel they encounter through the course of taking the semester-long class; students often feel that LRM is not vital enough to the district and benefits them in little to no way. However, LRM teaches students life skills such as how to sew a pillow, write out a check, pay for college, write a thank you letter and balance an account. So, is LRM really necessary? Of course it is. Like any class, there are drawbacks to it, but maybe that means what was taught in the past and in the present may need an update to accommodate the growing needs of our students as they enter the real world.

LRM guides students to the correct path of knowledge for their futures. Although, while it has much to offer, is all of it really necessary? Granted, a student will need to know how to properly fill out a check for future scenarios, but it’s less likely that a student will really find a vital situation to where he or she will need to sew a pillow or apply solemn memorization from the excessive repetition of worksheets that cover the same topic. A drawback of LRM lies on the staggering dilemma of finding a balance and priority on what should be taught, how often it should be taught and what should be left out of the teacher’s agenda.

There are three other classes besides LRM that also guarantee the Consumer Education credit required for graduation and the required Consumer Education class for the state of Illinois: Advanced Placement (AP) Economics, Introduction to Business and Consumer Education. The multiple offerings seemingly confuse students as to what option is the best for them to select for their schedules.

In the past and present, many students often took a wrong route in choosing their CE class. There are always students who personally believe and find LRM to be very enjoyable, and then there are also students who believe the complete opposite. Every class is not the same, just like how every student isn’t the same. Each CE class is assessed and taught in a different manner, just like how every student likes to learn in a different manner.

“What often happens is that students choose the ‘wrong’ class and find themselves disliking the one they are in. Some like more hands-on learning, some like to be on the computer more often. When a student who likes to learn by using a computer takes LRM, he or she is going could feel disappointed,” said Consumer Education teacher Marcia Zboril. “I love the challenge of every class and every student. Every year is completely different; every student is completely different. Different in a good way, though. This is the era of technology, but we don’t want our students relying on it that they don’t know how to get things done, and that’s why each class and teacher is different.”

The difference between CE classes falls under the distinction of courses that are computer-driven project-based learning, like Consumer Ed. and Intro. to Business, and classes that are grounded more in hands-on project based learning and worksheets, like LRM. Consumer Ed. and Intro. to Business provide students with an experience that is driven by authentic real-life situations. LRM touches briefly on hands-on situations, but connects its students more with worksheets.

“People have come to thank us,” said LRM and foods teacher Caitlin O’Grady. “Not everyone’s parent, grandpa, aunt, uncle or whoever are available all the time to teach this. Not everyone has that opportunity to teach them so that’s why at school [LRM] should be taught and required. Some of the parents came up to me at teacher conferences and said ‘wow, I’m glad that my child has someone teaching them this because I sure don’t know how to.'”

We, as a staff, support LRM and other CE classes; it is a grand opportunity that young adults, district-wide should take advantage of because it can help them succeed in the future.

Like every class, this one in particular shares its flaws. However, this one is vital and can benefit students by preparing them for adulthood, or in adult talk, “the real world.” LRM is vital because it teaches students life skills that an English, social studies, gym or science class could not do. Of course, every student won’t find themselves feeling benefited in the moment, but LRM will treat them well in the future, which is approaching faster than ever before. Perhaps with a few tweaks in the agenda and lesson plans, LRM could one day be a class that all students are sure to enjoy. LRM always was part of District 117’s past, currently part of its present and should remain for its future.