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Should Financial Literacy be Taught in Schools?

Updated: Feb 13, 2022

by Sloane Moriarty

Since my eighth-grade science class, I’ve known the parts of a leaf, what they do, and where they are located. The mitochondria, chloroplasts, and the endoplasmic reticulum are terms I’ve become familiar with, and on a surface level that doesn’t seem to cause any concern. However, as I look deeper into many aspects of my education thus far, I question how valuable it will all be in the long run. Apart from pursuing a career in biology, which accounts for only 120,375 awarded college degrees as of the 2021 school year, compared to the total number of business majors 289,384; I will never need to know the cells in a leaf, and instead could be focusing on an invaluable subject like financial literacy.

For many, school is the only place where talking about money is encouraged, and being fluent in the field of finances will only benefit students getting ready to go out on their own, and it could save them from being in deep debt later in life.

Money is renowned as a sensitive subject. Parents often tip-toe around the state of their finances with their children and neglect to indulge them in their money curiosities. A study conducted by T. Rowe Price in 2017 showed how 69% of parents say that they have some reluctance when it comes to discussing money with their children, and only 23% say that they frequently talk about finances with their kids. For most children, school is the only place to have such opportunities, yet only 21 states require a financial class to be taken in high school in order to graduate. Even my home state of California (the most populous state), and Florida (the third most populous state) are not part of these 21, and in a country with 50 states, 21 itself is a concerningly low figure. This deprivation leaves most kids in the dark money-wise when they are entering the real world.

According to the 2019 Experian Consumer Credit Review, the average credit debt for an American is $6,194. If schools were to implement financial literacy courses and teach kids about dealing with debt, this number could significantly decrease. A study conducted by Montana State University in 2018 showed that students in states that mandated financial literacy classes were 21% more likely to have a decrease in credit card balance than those in states who didn’t require financial education. This shows the clear applicability of these financial classes’ in the real world, and how they can lead our generation in the right direction towards success.

The answer is obvious, financial education should be treated with the same value as any other subject in school, as it so clearly paves the way for students to become successful. It’s not a matter of controversy, because the majority of Americans want financial education courses in high schools. So California Department of Education, what are you doing to solve this pressing issue, and how can you explain your silence on this necessary mandate?

Though often looked at as the source of all evil, money has become a vital element in our society; We can either learn to manipulate it or let it manipulate us.

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