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Some people are against school-based financial education because they believe it is the parents’ responsibility to teach children about money – and honestly it should be. But what about those children whose parents or guardians do not have the personal financial skills or experience to instruct their children adequately? Where can they go to learn the basics of personal finance?
As we increasingly focus our attention on improving financial equality and inclusion, school-based financial education will play an important role in leveling the playing field for future generations of American consumers, especially students growing up in historically underserved societies. By introducing these students to a financial system they may not have previously been exposed to, providing them with reliable information and offering them a chance to develop critical thinking skills, we can help prepare them to make smart financial decisions throughout their life.
Public support is widespread. 88 percent of adults in a recent survey by the National Endowment for Financial Education said their state should require either a semester or a year-long financial education course for exams, and 80 percent wished they had been required to take a semester or a year long. course in high school.
Several states are adding requirements, with Georgia earlier this week being the latest to mandate a personal economics course in high school. In March, Florida became the largest state that required personal finances in high school.
While economics education in the classroom is essential for disadvantaged students, it is valuable for everyone. Well-qualified educators with access to up-to-date curriculum resources are often best prepared to teach the many facets and constantly evolving elements of personal finance.
The Jump $ tart coalition believes that all students deserve effective financial education at all school levels. While we enthusiastically welcome the efforts of many states to make financial education a requirement for a high school diploma, we also believe that it should start sooner. Economic education in primary school – even before kindergarten – is crucial for young children, as they form their behavior and beliefs. And financial education is crucial for all middle school students, especially those who are most vulnerable to eventually dropping out of school.
The Community has never proposed education as the solution to economic well-being in itself. Rather, we believe it is a critical component when paired with equal access to appropriate products and services, solid consumer protection and ethical financial professionals. For its part, the community works together – often through the Jump $ tart Coalition – to provide quality resources and information, teacher training, education standards and more to ensure that financial education is effective in classrooms across the country.
For parents, therefore, the responsibility is to teach your children if you are capable of it; but more importantly, just talk to them about money, set a good example with your own financial decisions, and make sure financial education is included in their school curriculum. Especially since April is Financial Literacy Month, now is the time.
–By Laura Levine, President and CEO of the Jump $ tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy
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