Washington — All the US is a classroom -- a one-nation school, if you will -- and the teacher is President Ronald Reagan. The subject: Econ 101. Helping the President out is the Chamber of Commerce of the United States, which has developed special learning kits explaining basic economic principles for 9th- through 12th-graders. Generally, the material is free to the schools by way of local chambers.
And the local chambers make every effort to secure sponsors for local secondary schools from business members. Cities Service Gas Company, for example, sponsores the "Economics for Young Americans" kits in Kansas and Missouri. Florida Power & Light Company helps out in that state, as does Manufacturers Hanover Trust Company in New York.
Eight sugjects are at present available: competition, product pricing, savings, payroll deductions, the stock market, world trade, world economic systems, and job preparation.
The Chamber of Commerce packages each subject with filmstrips, casette sound tracks, scripts, and teaching guides.
Master sheets to accompany each subject are included in the kits, prepared so local schools can duplicate them on their own equipment.
Professionally produced and carefully arranged by economists, the material is designed to have wide appeal. For example, the kit describing payroll deductions explains what happens to a weekly salary of $100. And materials include tax forms, pension plan descriptions, health insurance contributions explanations, and so forth.
Schools are free to incorporate the kits in whatever manner they feel best, but many call on local business leaders to augment the specific lessons. This may bring someone from a brokerage house to talk about the stock and bond market , a personnel officer from a local company to talk about how to get that first job or an accountant to explain how products are priced.
A few states have mandated the teaching of the free-enterprise system; other states have specified that so many hours to time be spent studying economics. The chamber's Economics for Young Americans kits generally satisfy these state requirements.
Those school districts that are not already in touch with local chambers of commerce and are interested in the national program should contact the Chamber of Commerce of the United States, 1615 H Street, Washington, D.C. 20062.
As President Reagan pursues his economic goals, a long-neglected school subject may gain in popularity.