Stay up to date with what's happening at Midas! Check out our latest e-newsletter to learn about the recent changes at Midas, the MassSaves Summit, and our advocacy efforts in advancing financial security.
Building support of an issue requires making people aware of the problem. Writing a letter to your local or regional paper is an easy way to reach a large audience including policymakers focused on keeping tabs on issues of importance.
Many recognize the need of quality financial education when faced with a tough financial decision. Access to quality financial education is necessary at every stage of life. It is especially important to equip young adults with the tools they will require to lead financially sound lives. In Massachusetts, students are not required to take any financial education courses in high school. Students are left to make their own decisions without the necessary information to help guide them which has garnered the state an "F" again in the recent Survey of the States on K-12 economic and financial education. As students emerge into a financially complex world, with rising student loan debt and innumerable credit card offers, many are unable to succeed and get trapped in debt. This has to change.
Below are some steps in writing an effective letter that builds awareness and support for financial education for all students.
- Determine the guidelines required by the newspaper including the word count.
- Share your expertise on the issue. As a parent, teacher, community practitioner, employer, or concerned resident, share why passage of financial education will have an impact on your community. There are pockets of success across the state where financial education has been implemented, we need to ensure all students have the same opportunity.
- Include the legislation specific legislation you support, an Act Relative to Financial Literacy in Schools (S.249). Massachusetts only provides personal finance content in the K-12 standards through Model Curriculum Units which is not sustainable as financial decisions become more complex.
- Write in your own words - your voice matters.
- Advocate and make a call to legislators to pass legislation that invests in Massachusetts youth. Include supporting facts: 1 in 5 teenage students in the U.S. lacks basic financial literacy skills. Students who have taken a class in personal finance are more likely to engage in financially responsible behaviors such as saving, budgeting, and investing.
- Include your contact information to ensure the newspaper can reach you before printing your letter.
Thank you for supporting MassSaves and most importantly, our next generation.
Stay up to date with what's happening at Midas! Check out our latest e-newsletter to learn about our successful Assets & Opportunity Reception, our advocacy efforts in expanding access to financial education for youth, and our partners in advancing financial security.
Interested in advancing financial security for Massachusetts families? Work with Midas! Midas is looking for an enthusiastic intern to join us this Fall. Responsibilities include assisting in researching issues online, drafting materials (flyers, maps, slides) to support issues and educate consumers, and maintaining organization’s advocacy outreach database. Learn more about the internship responsibilities and requirements here. Deadline to apply is August 28, 2017.
On Tuesday, June 13 the Joint Committee on Education heard testimony on 10 bills filed for the 2017-18 legislative session that seek to implement financial literacy curriculum in Massachusetts public schools. The Committee also heard testimony on 16 bills advocating the re-institution of civics education. It is encouraging that over 50 legislators from both parties and diverse political perspectives have filed or co-sponsored these bills. In many cases progressive Democrats and conservative Republicans have co-sponsored the same bill.
Scott Guild, president, Massachusetts Council on Economic Education and David Floreen, retired banker and both members of the MassSaves Steering Committee, testified in general support for all 10 bills that seek to establish a financial literacy or personal finance curriculum in Massachusetts public schools. However, they focused their endorsement on three nearly identical bills, S 247, S 249 and H 261 because of their broad application across various disciplines and recognition that financial education content and concepts can (and perhaps should) be incorporated into many subject areas. H 2023 is an earlier version of three above bills but only references inclusion of financial education into the math curriculum while the other bills expand it to include social studies, business, health and other subject areas. The Massachusetts Bankers Association and The Midas Collaborative also submitted comprehensive written testimony in support of these bills.
Scott and Dave highlighted numerous facts regarding the general lack of financial awareness among the adult population locally and nationwide, that 47 percent of Americans are unprepared to pay for a $400 emergency and that numerous studies demonstrate that many Americans continue to lack even a basic understanding of basic economic and financial concepts and how that directly impacts their lives. Scott highlighted the results of the Council of Economic Education’s 2016 Survey of the States and the Champlain College study which further amplify the need implement some form of statewide financial education curriculum in Massachusetts.
As the former lobbyist for the Massachusetts Bankers Association and advocate for financial literacy, Dave explained that while Massachusetts schools and students rank number 1 in so many areas, it earns an F in financial education, primarily because it is such a random, hit or miss proposition based on the interests, resources of particular school district leadership, individual schools and even individual teachers within a school. He acknowledged and addressed the assertions by some that there is no room in the current class schedules, no money to hire more teachers or class materials, and a lack of qualified teachers.
In particular Dave and Scott asserted the claim that inserting financial education into the K-12 curriculum was a new state mandate that unless funding is provided it cannot be adopted is a lame excuse. There are many ways to incorporate financial education concepts into existing courses with no additional expense or hiring of additional teachers. For example, some teachers include basic budgeting and money management issues into their health class curriculum since financial challenges are often the number one cause of stress and various health issues. Similarly, incorporating a discussion of financial education into business education classes and social studies curriculum on the effects of the Depression or the more recent Great Recession is a great way to make issues real for students.
Dave relayed his recent experience in Andover where he helped introduce the first Credit for Life Fair at Andover High School and one that is repeated across the Commonwealth. The outpouring of support from teachers, local banks and businesses, volunteers, parents and most importantly the students was overwhelming! Almost everyone said, “Why don’t we have financial education throughout our schools? … This is tremendous, what do we have to do to make this happen in all schools?”
Our closing argument was simple and basic: This is the time to act. The Education Committee has endorsed similar bills in the past and there is broad bi-partisan support from all political perspectives. This is a wonderful opportunity for the legislature to pass a bill that all can support and their constituents (and media) will praise you for doing something that just makes sense!
Sen. Vincent DeMacedo (R-Plymouth) and a longtime supporter of financial education bills also testified in support. His message was also simple; we are all coming together on this, it’s so important to prepare our students for the reality of life. He urged the committee to pass a comprehensive bill this session.
Next Steps, What Can I do?
The most important action supporters of financial education can take right now is to email or write their local legislator and the chairs of the Education Committee and ask them to support S 249 and H 261. These are the bills endorsed by MassSaves as they are the most comprehensive and reflect the ability to incorporate financial education in multiple academic disciplines and are nearly identical to the bill endorsed by the Education Committee in 2016. Please feel free to use some of the points noted above. Even more important is to share any personal/local examples of why these bills make sense and how they will benefit the students/families in their district. For a link to the text of the financial education bills click here and to contact members of the Education Committee, click here.
We are planning a “Day on the Hill” in October to help generate awareness of and support for these bills. We hope you will join us. In the meantime, contact Marlishia Aho for more information on advocating for access to quality financial education.
Are you ready to celebrate? Save the date for our Assets & Opportunity Reception on Wednesday, October 4th in Boston. Check out our latest e-newsletter for more info and learn about what Midas has been up to.