What’s a Credit Downgrade? The New York Times Explains to Students

Where do you begin when students start asking about the credit downgrade? What do you say when a student wants details on the national debt and wants to know what Congress is doing to solve the country’s problems?

The Learning Network (Teaching and Learning with the New York Times) recently compiled a list of New York Times resources that are great for teaching students about the crisis in the economy. Writer Holly Epstein Ojalvo divided the economic issues in two categories:

1. The National Debt and the Debt Ceiling:

Use the following resources to answer questions surrounding the subject of “What does it all mean?”

Times Topics: National Debt
An index of Times articles and multimedia about the national debt and the debt ceiling; includes a helpful Times-written overview.

Q. and A. on the Debt Ceiling
A “crash course in all things debt ceiling.”

Charting the American Debt Crisis
A set of charts illustrating how the national debt accumulated and other related topics

2. The Credit Downgrade:

The “downgrade” is all over the news, but what does a downgrade even mean? Use the following resources to explain the nation’s S&P credit rating.

Times Topics: Standard & Poor’s
Explains what the credit rating company does and provides background, as well as indexes related articles.

S.&P. Downgrades Debt Rating of U.S. for the First Time
News article about the credit downgrade.

FiveThirtyEight: Why S.&P.’s Ratings Are Substandard and Porous
Commentary and analysis by Nate Silver.

For even more resources, check out the full article “Teaching and Learning About the U.S. Debt Crisis and Credit Downgrade.”

LifeBound’s newest addition, Dollars and Sense: How to Be Smart About Money, gives students the tools they need to understand money. The book follows the six national financial literacy standards as created by the Jump$tart Coalition: Financial Responsibility and Decision Making, Income and Careers, Planning and Money Management, Credit and Debt, Risk Management and Insurance, and Saving and Investing. We will also offer online assessments, tests, and supplements on our website. Give teens the financial skills they need to avoid and get out of debt, invest smart, and create a financially secure life.


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