Thursday, November 13, 2008

Why isn't financial literacy a public school requirement?

This is where I spent my morning yesterday: in a classroom at Winton Hills Academy, a public Cincinnati middle school. All over Ohio yesterday schools participated in "Accounting for Kids Day", a special promotion where people in finance-related jobs went to school and played a game about the stock market to show the kids about investing.

I could have gone to any school but I'm glad it was Winton Hills I went to because it reminded me of my own elementary school: public, mostly black, near a housing project and with many students who don't get much, if any, exposure to something like the stock market. It was a great experience; I had a lot of fun and the students all said they learned something.

The drawback is that financial education for ALL students needs to be integrated into the curriculum. One day of playing a game about the stock market isn't enough, not when we live in a country with a negative savings rate, where so many people made terrible home buying decisions over the past few years, and where so many kids like the ones at Winton Hills are likely to not have access to basic financial tools like checking or savings accounts.

The state of Ohio is going to implement some form of mandatory financial literacy class in the coming years, but one state isn't enough. One of the top education priorities of the Obama administration should be a mandatory financial literacy curriculum.

Where are the lobbyists pushing for that? )Oh, yeah, they're all out begging for bailout money right now.)

Are there any teachers, principals or parents reading this? If so, do your students get any training in financial literacy at all? If so, tell us about it.


Mary said...

We teach children how to add, subtract, divide, and spend money. But we don't teach them how to multiply, invest, or save it.

***shaking my head in disgust***

Butterrfly said...

I certainly agree that financial literacy should be included in the school systems and interwoven throughout the K – 12 curriculums. However, like anything else we cannot leave everything up to the school systems when it comes to the well being of our children. I adamantly believe that parents must take an active role in introducing financial literacy to their children. Plenty of banks, credit unions and even online banks like the favorite INGdirect have products and programs specially designed for children of various age groups to help encourage financial literacy, money management, investing, credit et al.

Velvet Jones said...

I agree initially with butterrfly. However I believe this really needs to be pushed through the schools. I liken it to sex education. Yeah, parents should be teaching their kids about it, however there are some parents that absolutely refuse, or are so bad at it/have really messed up ideas that they would do more harm than good to a child in teaching them how to be responsible, be it with their sexual health and/or money.

The parents that do "get it" shouldn't (and probably aren't) hesitate to teach their kids how to manage money. However I believe the school system is probably the best way to spread solid information quickly, and to the widest reach of kids.

Anonymous said...

I believe education about personal finance should be a community commitment, not just parents or schools. This is being demonstrated in some western states, particularly, Washington State, where the state Department of Financial Institutions has partnered with the National Theatre for Children to present a live, traveling in-school theatre show "Mad About Money." The program features professional actors intertwining comedy with basics of financial literacy. It is most often presented at the middle school level.
I recently learned that the show has expanded beyond a live performance and now includes a TV show and website so other educators across the country can use the program.
I must say as an adult, who covered one of the performances for the local newspaper I was working for, I too learned/ or was reminded of, a few things about basic financial smarts.
Every little bit helps.

Anonymous said...

If you are interested in teaching your kids about working with money responsibly, Junior Achievement has a great free site. You should check it out

BLevy said...

We have been pursuing financial education for 10 years now and we are always looking for new ways to help. Please consider We also have a magazine available for bulk deliver to HS systems - many already receive it.