More can be done for financial literacy in high schools

April is Financial Literacy Month, and while my recent column on women being more active in investing and saving for retirement (”More Women Are Investing, and at a Younger Age”) highlighted a positive trend, a new report on financial literacy efforts, this time involving children in kindergarten through 12th grade, showed stalled progress.

The biennial Survey of the States for 2022 (tinyurl.com/ypt426we), conducted by the nonprofit Council for Economic Education (CEE), found stagnation on one front and a small gain in a second category compared to 2020.

The survey, which debuted in 1998, examines “the state of K-12 economic and financial education in the United States.” The latest version found that 25 states require students to take a course in economics to graduate, which, unfortunately, was unchanged from two years prior.

While the report called economics a core skill “that’s necessary for understanding the world and making better decisions,” it pointed out that 22 states required economics for graduation in 2011, and that number has increased by only three states in 11 years.

Further, according to the CEE, there has been proposed legislation in states like Georgia and South Carolina that would remove economics requirements. And another negative sign pointed out by the CEE: The National Assessment Governing Board decided in 2019 to remove economics from its National Assessment of Educational Progress schedule.

In contrast, a slightly more positive trend was found involving states requiring students to take a course in personal finance in order to graduate — the number was up two states from the results in 2020 for a total of 23 states. The two states (Nebraska and Ohio) were highlighted in the survey for passing legislation in 2021 requiring a full semester course in personal finance before a student can graduate.

The survey also found that there are nine states with dedicated courses in personal finance (as opposed to including personal finance in other coursework), up from six in 2020.

You can see your state’s status in the categories of economic and personal finance education by looking at the maps and charts included in the survey.

What can be done to accelerate financial literacy in schools? If you are a proponent of financial literacy education, consider becoming an advocate.

The CEE offers an advocacy toolkit (tinyurl.com/3mtpmyr8) for parents and community leaders. The toolkit includes “useful information on general advocacy, basic facts about economic and personal finance education in the U.S., suggestions for interacting with elected officials, and sample legislation and rules from states with end-to-end requirements in economics or personal finances.”

Other efforts are underway. For example, the CEE (tinyurl.com/3w2pt4nd) is partnering with credit card company Visa to promote FinEd50, a coalition of nonprofit organizations, corporate partners and others that is “committed to effecting change in education policy at the state level.” More details can be found at FinEd50.com.

Working in Support of Education, aka W!se (wise-ny.org), and Moneyworks (tinyurl.com/2p9xafs8) are also promoting financial education in schools.

So efforts are being made. Of course, more can always be done. From my perspective, the very worthwhile goal is educating the investors and financial decision-makers of tomorrow.

Julie Jason, JD, LLM, a personal money manager (Jackson, Grant of Stamford) and author, welcomes your questions/comments ([email protected]). Her awards include the 2021 Clarion Award, symbolizing excellence in clear, concise communications. Her latest book, a curated collection of Julie’s columns, is “Retire Securely: Insights on Money Management From an Award-Winning Financial Columnist.” To hear Julie speak, visit juliejason.com/events.

https://www.middletownpress.com/business/article/Julie-Jason-More-can-be-done-for-financial-17052476.php?t=172ab0cce2

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