Friday, August 10, 2007

Mandatory High School Econ Test for Congress?

From today's WSJ's editorial "The Kids Are All Right"

NAEP reported this week that 79% of twelfth graders passed the first-ever national economics test. Holy Hayek.

The test included technical questions on price floors, opportunity cost, and the supply curve. One question asked what would happen if government mandated a high price floor for chocolate. A plurality deftly analyzed a graph to choose the correct answer: There would be a surplus of chocolate. Presumably the test could have asked about a minimum wage, too, and students would have arrived at a similar conclusion. Maybe Congress should make this test, or one like it, mandatory for all Members.

All of this welcome economic literacy comes despite the fact that only one-third of states require a course in economics for a high school degree. Yet when economics is offered, it is a popular choice: In 2005, 66% of graduates had received formal instruction, compared with 49% in 1982. The depth of knowledge shown by ordinary seniors suggests that they have been able to absorb basic economic truths from their daily experiences. Now, if this wisdom can only survive four years of instruction by your average college faculty.


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