Monday, November 02, 2015

Can a State Mandate Financial Literacy?

From KELO, according to the Center for Financial Literacy:
South Dakota schools are receving [sic] an "F" in teaching students personal finance in high school... South Dakota requires high school students to take a half-year course in either personal finance or economics but does not require students to choose personal finance or require schools to offer personal finance.
These ratings appear to be based entirely on whether or not a high school personal finance course is required by law. Based on more well-rounded methodology, South Dakota was recently rated the 6th best state for Money-Savviness.

For the Center for Financial Literacy, it doesn't seem to matter whether students retain any knowledge of personal finance or learn it at home or independently, only if they were required by law to slog through a course before most of them even have any financial responsibilities which they can relate the course to. The takeaway: if you don't learn it in a government class, you never will.

I come from another F-rated state, Washington. We covered personal finance as a small part of another course, but that doesn't count as "financial literacy" because it wasn't required by law. It also would have been a serious waste of time to extend it out to a full semester. Personal finance is just not that complicated. Do we want to tell students that they can't take another year of a foreign language or calculus because the state mandates a full semester on why you shouldn't buy an iPad if you can't pay your rent? (And do we really think it will change them if we do?)

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