While many states this year have seen a bill or two introduced in their legislatures regarding financial literacy education in public K-12 schools, California is seeing several! The most rigorous, Assembly Bill 984, would require high school students to complete a one-semester personal financial literacy course to graduate. It would first affect the class of 2029, with schools required to offer the course beginning with the 2025-26 school year. A less rigorous bill, Senate Bill 324, would require financial literacy standards to be included in existing classes beginning in elementary school. In a related development, AB 800 would require high school juniors and seniors to spend a week each May – “Workplace Readiness Week” – learning about workplace and labor laws.
California Well-Positioned to Mandate Financial Literacy Class
Fortunately, California has plenty of resources to make AB 984 a reality. Two additional bills about financial literacy education involve setting aside funding for material, and the state’s public and charter schools received some $3.6 billion in grants last fall to fund such courses and teacher training for them. The California Department of Education has also compiled existing financial literacy resources for teachers and parents. Perhaps due to California’s size and population, its webpage for resources is very thorough compared to other states!
Helping with the passage of AB 984 is the California DoE website’s page of professional development resources for teachers who will end up teaching the new financial literacy course. There is a link to the California Association of School Economics Teachers (CASET), a nonprofit where current Econ teachers help share best practices. There is also a link to the American Association of Family & Consumer Sciences website, which includes a certification program for becoming a Personal & Family Financial Education. These are valuable resources for the state to partner with, as Personal Financial Literacy teachers are most likely to come from those currently teaching either Economics or Family and Consumer Sciences classes.
The W!se personal finance certification, initiated in 2008, has been taken by teachers in 35 states since its inception at the University of Central Arkansas. Another resource for financial literacy training is the California Society of CPAs, which offers training to volunteers who want to make financial literacy presentations to middle and high school students. In addition to partnering with Next Gen Personal Finance, CalCPA also hosts its own Dollars & Sense Workshops to present to schools and community organizations. These workshops cover basics like budgeting, taxes, and savings and investment strategies.
Finally, Financial Beginnings California is another nonprofit organization that offers financial literacy resources and curriculum, differentiated by age level. The program for high school, Financial Foundations, covers basic modules in two steps, with the first step more foundational and the second step more advanced. Lessons can be downloaded, and teachers can choose to present the lessons independently or have volunteers come present. These volunteers come from many businesses and financial institutions, especially banks, located around the state, including nationwide businesses like Bank of America, Intuit, and U.S. Bank.