It’s a sobering thought: Florida’s students are graduating high school without a good understanding of how to manage money.
Michael L. Bell, M.E.d., Executive Director of the Florida Council on Economic Education
The unfortunate truth is, nearly half of Florida’s graduating seniors lack comprehension of financial basics like credit scores, balancing checkbooks, paying back loans and avoiding bankruptcy. For each student who graduates prepared, another leaves school unready to meet financial challenges.
One of the reasons for this is lack of adequate financial education. A recent study by the Council for Economic Education found that students in states with a specific, required financial literacy course were more likely to save and pay off credit cards, and less likely to be compulsive buyers and make late payments.
Florida took a step in the right direction in 2013 by including financial literacy content in its education standards – but it didn’t go far enough.
While deliberating the bill that introduced some level of financial education to our students, lawmakers became alarmed by the growing trend of crushing personal debt incurred by high-school graduates. Research has shown this debt not only impairs their ability to find a job, but also their ability to keep one.
Fortunately, lawmakers did the right thing in that 2013 bill that required financial literacy for our high-school students. The Florida Department of Education also studied the cost of a one-semester, half-credit statewide course and found it to be very reasonable, as little as $140,000. And last month, the DOE finished updating our state’s education standards to prepare for a required financial literacy course.
So what’s left to do?
Lawmakers just need now to finish what they’ve started, by passing legislation to create that required course on financial literacy. We call it the Money Course. But Florida’s students – and businesses – may well call it a lifesaver when our graduating seniors hit campuses, offices and shops knowing how to keep and manage their money for a lifetime.
This article was originally written by Michael Bell and posted on the Pensacola News Journal July 26th 2014.