by Max Brantley
Something about this seems a little paradoxical. A nonprofit organization devoted to better teaching of economics has decided to raise money for the cause by -- GAMBLING.
Economics Arkansas will hold a raffle -- selling 999 tickets at $150 each-- for a chance to win a Lexus convertible, plus enough cash to pay the taxes on the prize.
Students, presumably, will not be encouraged in their economics courses to look to the lottery for success. If nothing else, the odds are a whole lot worse than 1 in 999 for the big prizes. Like 1 in 195 million for Powerball.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Sept. 1, 2009) – Economics Arkansas, a statewide, private, nonprofit promoting K-12 economic literacy in Arkansas, will hold the state’s first car raffle in October to support its programs for teachers and students.
A live drawing in late October will be held to determine the winner of a 2010 Lexus IS250 C convertible. In addition, Economics Arkansas is sweetening the winnings by paying the federal and state taxes on behalf of the winner – up to 45% of the value of the car. Tickets for the raffle are $150, and only 999 tickets will be offered. More information on the raffle details can be found at www.economicsarkansas.org.
“We are definitely feeling the impact of the struggling economy, and with corporate donations declining, we decided to try a different twist to secure more individual contributions for our mission,” said Sue Owens, executive director of Economics Arkansas. “In 2007, the Arkansas State Legislature gave nonprofits the ability to host raffles to raise funds, so we hope this will be a success.”
Economics Arkansas decided to hold the raffle after hearing of the success of the Asheville Symphony Orchestra, which is hosting its 13th annual car raffle this year.
“In many cases, someone winning a car would need to sell the car just to pay the enormous tax bill the government imposes, and we did not want this to occur,” Owens said.
The success of the raffle is critical as Economics Arkansas anticipates many more teachers and school districts will need resources and training due to recent changes to the state’s Smart Core/Core Curriculum. In July, the Arkansas State Board of Education voted to require all high-school students to complete a semester course of economics beginning in the 2010-2011 school year. Arkansas is the 21st state in the country to require an economics course before high-school graduation.
The new requirement is the outcome of a statewide collaboration between Economics Arkansas, Arkansas Department of Education, Arkansas Association of Educational Administrators (AAEA), the Little Rock branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and K-12 educators from across the state.
“This is a major breakthrough for our state and for students who will soon be entering a global economy,” Owens said. “Our budget will be impacted as we anticipate many more teachers and school districts will need our resources and training. When a young person learns how to make better choices for the future – what we call the economic way of thinking – and they understand how to manage their resources wisely, they’re more likely to become productive citizens in our communities and in the state.”
In recent years, the financial literacy of high-school students and college students in the United States has declined, while the amount of student debt has dramatically increased. In 2008, the average score in the Jump$tart Coalition’s “Personal Financial Literacy Survey” of high-school seniors was 48 percent - down from the average score of 52 percent in 2006.
Personal debt among high school and college students is also on the rise. A recent study by Sallie Mae, a provider of student loans and administrator of college savings plans, indicates that 39 percent of college freshmen enter college with at least one credit card; by the time they are seniors, the number jumps to 88 percent. According to Sallie Mae, the average undergraduate in 2008 had $3,173 in credit-card debt – the highest figure ever recorded.
About Economics Arkansas
Economics Arkansas is a private, nonprofit, non-partisan, educational organization founded in 1962 by Dr. Bessie B. Moore. Its mission is to promote economic literacy for K-12 students in Arkansas. Economics Arkansas collaborates with six university-based centers for economic education located in Arkansas, and is affiliated with the Council for Economic Education located in New York. These partnerships strive to meet the needs of teachers by providing outstanding economic education training, materials and curriculum for the classroom. To learn more about Economics Arkansas’ mission and the Lexus car raffle, visit www.economicsarkansas.org <http://www.economicsarkansas.org> .