States Move to Include Financial Education in Schools, Will Mass. Be Next?
Recently two states have passed personal finance legislation: Arkansas and Wisconsin.
In Arkansas, lawmakers approved the Personal Finance and Job Readiness Act this year. It mandates that students receive instruction on a range of standards related to financial literacy. The law doesn't require schools to specially offer a personal finance course. It instead directs the Arkansas Department of Education to develop personal and family finance standards that can be incorporated into existing courses. Legislators noted “too many students leave school unaware of financial issues they're bound to encounter in the real world." The standards will be presented to the Board of Education for approval next month. The law will take effect with the class of 2021.
In Wisconsin, Governor Scott Walker signed Assembly Bill 280 into law which will direct each school board to adopt academic standards for financial literacy and incorporate instruction in financial literacy into the curriculum in grades kindergarten to 12. Legislators said, “we want to pull out all the stops to help raise the financial acumen for everybody in Wisconsin." The Wisconsin Bankers Association said, “Financial education is an important aspect of every person’s life. It’s more than simply knowing how to save for retirement or balance a checkbook. It’s learning about how to make sound choices that will help people become financially empowered in every corner of the state. If a person is lacking the basics of financial literacy, they are open to being taken advantage of and being susceptible to a financially unstable future”
What's next for Massachusetts? The Senate conducted a listening tour of millennials to better understand their issues which resulted in the Millennial Engagement Initiative report. Amongst its recommendations for transportation, housing and student debt there was a recommendation regarding k-12 education.
“Throughout our tour, we consistently heard that millennials did not feel as though they have a grasp on how to obtain and manage their own health insurance, retirement savings, credit cards, debt and taxes. As fewer employers provide benefit packages inclusive of these products the need for young people to not only understand but navigate the financial sector of our economy is increasingly important. We recommend financial literacy education be incorporated into public school curriculum from kindergarten to twelfth grade.”
MassSaves advocates plan to build upon their momentum from their October 11th "Day on the Hill" to ensure passage of legislation in 2018 that equips Massachusetts students with the tools to build financially responsible lives.