Social Studies and Education’s Anand Marri Named Vice President and Head of Economic Education of Federal Reserve Bank of New York ☆
“I didn’t apply for the job,” said Marri of his new position. “[The Fed] called me back in March and asked me to serve on a search committee. I knew the two heads, and shared a lunch with a former student of mine, Adrian Franco, of the Economics and Education program and he basically told me they were going to offer me the job. The Provost thought it was a great opportunity that I shouldn’t pass up, my colleagues thought it was a great opportunity. It was an endeavor wholly supported by TC.”
In his new role, Marri will direct a 10-member staff, including Adrian Franco, a recent Ph.D graduate of the Economics and Education program, and oversee ten programs that reach over 70 thousand people a year. Included in those programs are the College Fed Challenge, the High School Fed Challenge, directing the museum at 33 Liberty Street, and bringing back the graphic novels about the Federal Reserve.
“We have these comic books about money, about what the Federal Reserve does, and they’ve been suspended for a while to update the content, but now it’s my job to bring them back,” said Marri.
And it’s no wonder that one of Marri’s responsibilities at the Federal Reserve would include working with comic books, since he’s been widely recognized as the authority on education for young people on economic literacy topics. In 2010, he spearheaded the creation of “Understanding Fiscal Responsibility,” an inquiry-based curriculum that teaches students the facts, significance, and effects of the Federal Budget, National Debt, and Budget Deficit on United States citizens.
“We go out to high schools twice a month to talk to students about the Federal Reserve,” said Marri of the program, which has reached schools in Southern New Jersey and New York. “To be an effective citizen is to be economically literate. To be an effective citizen, children need to understand financial literacy. That means monetary policy, personal banking and consumption, and the national debt. For example, it’s important to know and understand that the Federal Reserve determines our interest rates on loans and investments.”
Since then, Marri has expanded his economic literacy initiatives to include teachers. Most recently, he led the creation of The Cowin Financial Literacy Project, a professional development program for New York City public school teachers working with students in grades 9-12. With $525 thousand funded by TC Trustee Joyce Cowin (MA’ 52) since 2012, Marri has been able to help teachers integrate concepts about personal finance into subjects they already teach, including history and social studies.
The Project includes a one-week summer institute where teachers analyze case studies as a way to teach financial literacy in their classrooms. At the end of the week, the attendees have the option of taking a certification exam that, if passed, will provide each teacher with the credentials necessary to teach financial literacy.
“We have eight case studies for kids to understand finance,” said Marri. “We give these case studies to the teachers so that they can understand the dilemmas that people face when put in these situations. Having teachers advocate for these issues increases their own understanding of the issues and the ability to teach about them.”
Last summer, the Project included 50 teachers, all of whom passed their certification exams. This year, for the Institute happening from July 14-18, Marri expects 75 attendees. In addition, he is currently working with Cowin to expand the program in the future, including adding online professional development.
“With our online professional development model, we’ll have a wider reach across the country,” said Marri. “Teachers are very smart and they can use this curriculum in their classroom as they best see fit.”
Furthermore, Marri hopes to expand his programs to include elementary school children.
“The idea of these programs, and the idea of financial literacy in general, is that it should be K-12, not just high schoolers,” he said. “The goal is to have it be K-16. We need to make sure that all through college kids understand this material. We need to get kids thinking about things like whether there is a fair way to do government, or how we buy and sell bonds, or if we need to change something about Social Security or Medicare. To start engaging with these questions is what civic education is all about. It’s about wading through the data to get a better understanding. Kids need to understand that there isn’t one way or correct way to get the job done, but multiple and sometimes competing viewpoints.”
Marri also believes that there is a strong connection between his work at the Federal Reserve and his work at Teachers College.
“It all ties back to monetary policy and financial literacy,” he said. “Everyone pays attention to education and part of that is being financially literate.”