Should schools make financial education a graduation requirement?

Yes. Financial-literacy skills are vital. A required course would give students a head start -- and would help prevent them from having to learn it the hard way.
92% (830 votes)
No. Personal finance may be important, but it can be learned outside of school; a required course is unnecessary.
5% (49 votes)
Neither.
3% (25 votes)
Total votes: 904

Comments (44)

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Linda Locklear (not verified)

Financial Literacy

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I have the luxury?? of teaching year round school in NJ to students who are labeled "In Crisis" and are ages 11-17. It is especially difficult to motivate them in the summer when all of their peers are at the beach. As a result, my teaching partner and I have developed a curriculum which focuses on Financial Literacy. We utilize several free resources and our curriculum covers everything from grocery shopping to playing the stock market. In general, the kids love the program and especially love competing for the free Fast Food Lunch for the winner of the Stock Market Game. IT is also fun to see them apply what they have learned to other classes. One student was recently in her Career Exploration class and told the teacher that she had changed her career goal because after taking the summer program she was worried that she would not make enough money to buy medical insurance.
My teaching partner and I often remark how we wish there would have been a class like this for us. Maybe our national economy would be stronger if we all were more educated on Financial Literacy.

Anonymous (not verified)

Family dynamics

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I am a teacher in PA and our school district requires all students to take a family and consumer sciences course called family dynamics their senior year. It is a quarter long and in the course I teach money management. We talk about financial goals, banking, credit, id theft and how to purchase both a car and a house.

Although many of the students hate that it is a graduation requirement most of the kids do understand the importance of the class. It is amazing to me how many of my students have jobs where they get a paycheck and have no idea what the taxes are being taken out for or no clue how the deduction forms they are filling out when they get jobs effect there paychecks. They just mindless claim 0 and go on their way.

Will Felton (not verified)

EAST

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I was fresh out of a small rural high school. I was on my way to college. I was 18, living on my on and ready for the world adulthood. First day was orientation. Lined up along the path were tables with all these beautiful, young, professional, rich looking people. Those men and women saw me as fresh meat. One after another, like a cafeteria line, I was given gift after gift after gift and all I had to do was to give my information to a credit card company. Weeks later the party didn’t stop because those shinny cards came in the mail. I could never afford the expensive clothes, the neat toys, etc. Now I could. The world was my oyster and I didn’t know that I couldn’t eat them. Swipe after swipe, never knowing of interest, due dates, hidden fees, small print; I charged like a Spartan. The bills came. It was over. I had to take a full time job to help offset the money, next thing I know I am applying for a student loan. I lost my scholarship. My parents made too much money (funny, I didn’t know teachers and farmers were too rich) for a grant, even though I hadn’t lived with them for a year and half. The student loan people, all beautiful, young, professional, rich looking, wanted my information, too. However, there was one catch - - a video. I had to watch a video explaining how the money comes and when I will pay it back – after college. The new shinny things were pamphlets and fliers, I think. I was a little leery, but they were going to give me money for my books and tuition and then they were going to double that to give me living expenses. The loan was two different loans. I don’t remember that in the video. Oh, I could give that second loan back. But what mild, mannered 19 year old would give money back. I had bills now.
To the end…I just paid off my last credit card from when I was 18. I am 35 years old now. When I graduated college, the bills for my student loan came. No one told me that the interest would change, that I would be paying until I am (and get this) 68. On my 68th birthday I will send in my last payment note for the student loan. That is with a payment of $300 a month. That is if I don’t have to defer again due to financial situations. I am a teacher only 8 years into it. I am working on my Master’s. Those loans (which are for tuition and books only) will be added to my previous ones, as will my doctorate loans. I think I will probably die before I pay them off.
I never knew anything about interest, fees and credit when I was 18. I am slowly rebuilding my credit now. I was not taught in school or by my parents. I would have been more cautious if I would have known that I will never be debt free - - ever.

Greg Moon (not verified)

Re: An emphatic no- another learning

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I would agree with you that parents need to take more of an ownership role in their children's education, but...

Working in both finance (I used to sell stocks and bonds, I'm now a real estate and mortgage broker) and as a teacher (middle school and community college) I will tell you that the same parents that you suggest teach them about personal finance are themselves pathetically financially illiterate.

In addition to health/physical education, this is one life skill that every student will need to function in our society. So why do we graduate obese students that have no clue that you actually have to have funds in a checking account before writing a check? Just like many other aspects of child-rearing, public schools are going to have to fill this gap in personal financial knowledge until our society once again values having parents that act like grown-ups.

Chuck Robbins (not verified)

Economics

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Yes, Economics is a California graduation requirement but financial education is not. The CA Content Standards totally exclude personal finance...instead one is expected to teach micro, macro, foreign trade & developing economics in 18 weeks. I include a living on your own project, a total cost of car ownership project and an optional stock market project...and discussions of other topics. To do so i balnce what I do not cover, or what I don't cover as well from the Content Standards. But personal financial literacy IS NOT a requirement, and having economics as a requirement isn't the same thing at all.

Leslie (not verified)

This must start in Pre-school

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Financial Literacy cannot be made real and down to the bones unless this curriculum begins in pre-school and continues progressively all the way through senior year. The compound information is as valuable as compounding interest. Giving a student tools and empowering them in life is what we need to be about; a one semester class is a poor excuse for doing the job correctly.

If a longitudinal study was to be performed on students who have the benefit of this education for 12+ years I believe over time you would see a much more stable citizen in society who is more able to be independent and contribute in man ways due to less stress and less dependence on social welfare programs.

Anonymous (not verified)

Include Personal Finance as part of a Required Economic Course

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Personal finance should be part of a required economics course for all high school students. It is essential that all citizens have a fundamental understanding of how the economy works and how to manage their personal finances within that context. It is unrealistic to think that people will become more finacially responsible and independent without being educated about the fundamentals. Life style has as much to do with how one manages his/her income as it does how much one earns. Many people with lower incomes live better than those with higher incomes who don't manage that income effectively. Moreover, computer tools and simulation / virtual gaming offer all kinds of opportunties to teach economic concepts much more effectively than in the past.

Anonymous (not verified)

I disagree

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Sorry, I disagree. I to beleive the educational system in the entire US is inadequate; however, you send your children to school to learn. Increasing, especially in the mortgage sector, more and more people are gettinig in trouble. We could stop this by teaching people at a younger age. Now you and I are forced to help those who do not understand with our tax dollars. The government is bailing them out and this did not have to happen. Education should make you a more knowledgable and well-rounded individual. We are taught to buy what we want and pay for it later through the media. If the parents do not know how to manage their money, then how do we expect their kids to?

Anonymous (not verified)

What state are you in? What

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What state are you in? What kind of lessons are taught?

Dave (not verified)

I suggest that Health and

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I suggest that Health and P.E. requirements be combined with things like financial literacy into a "Lifeskills" requirement. Instead of requiring all students to spend 3-4 semesters on Health and P.E. classes that teach very very little, spend a rigorous semester each on Healthy eating / drug education, P.E. / exercise / practical anatomy, and some kind of real-life skills class that includes financial literacy, discussion of legal documents/contracts/leases, employee/employer rights, etc. I personally would like to see some impacting classroom discussion of ethics and morals, but that's a huge topic of debate by itself. There will always be concern that coursework doesn't permanently impact students. Does everyone who has a diploma know Algebra? Should we then not require Algebra at all?
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