In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, government officials, parents, teachers and the general public rallied around the idea that personal finance must be taught to our children so they don’t end up in the same dismal situation where we currently find ourselves – owing more than $1 trillion in student loans and $870 billion in credit card debt.
But over the past four years, we haven’t made great improvements in teaching financial life skills to our children. CEE’s latest Survey of the States finds that only 14 states require a high school course in personal finance to be taught, and only 13 of those require the course be taken in order for students to graduate.
On today’s The Take Away radio segment, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Beth Kobliner, author of Get a Financial Life and a member of the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability, discussed the Obama administration’s initiative to teach children personal finance skills, starting as young as three years old. CEE contributed curricula and advice on the initiative, including content from the Financial Fitness for Life program.
Secretary Duncan says, “It is in the country’s best interest to be a financially literate workforce.”
CEE couldn’t agree more. For the past 60 years, our mission has been to instill in young people the fourth “R”—a real-world understanding of economics and personal finance. The core work at CEE is in the content and pedagogy of personal finance and economic education for K-12 educators. Through programs like the personal finance integration project, we implement systematic approaches to bringing personal finance concepts and materials into a diverse range of subjects, including math, social studies, science and English – all subjects that lend to well-rounded and financially literate students.
As Secretary Duncan said this morning, we all have a role to play, but there is no place better to teach these skills than in the schools. Later this year CEE will release the Voluntary National Content Standards in Personal Finance to provide a detailed framework for teaching personal finance in kindergarten through 12th grade.