In today’s America of intense partisanship, finding an issue that gets support from both sides of the political aisle is a breath of fresh air. One such issue is ensuring that teenagers learn about personal finance before graduating from high school and becoming legal adults who can amass debt, pay taxes, and maintain a budget. According to Erica Moser in New London, Connecticut, both Democrats and Republicans are united around the importance of teaching Personal Financial Literacy to today’s high school juniors and seniors.
As in other states, some school districts have already made a one-semester Personal Financial Literacy (PFL) class a high school graduation requirement. SB 1165, a bill in the state senate, is described as “An Act Concerning Financial Literacy Instruction” and has been approved by the Education Committee with a 39-2 vote. The bill has the support of the state Treasurer and many in the state’s banking community. Another noteworthy supporter is Connecticut native and former NFL player Jordan Reed, who wants students to have a solid educational background in how to deal with finances. Like many professional athletes, Reed faced struggles and temptations when suddenly receiving a high income at a young age.
Supporters Hope Nonprofit Support Will Help Ease Bill
As in other states, some are challenging the PFL bill because it would impose additional costs on school districts to add another required class. Fortunately, supporters of the bill are pushing back and explaining that many campuses will be able to implement the one-semester course with existing teachers. Like many states, Connecticut requires high school students to take Economics, and many Econ teachers are well-suited to also teaching Personal Financial Literacy. Supporters also point out that there are many nonprofit and government resources to help implement the new class.
The State of Connecticut Council on Women and Girls has a financial literacy portal with investor education, a link to the Connecticut branch of Jump$tart, and a women’s financial literacy mentoring program. A specific Financial Literacy Resources page is even more detailed and even includes links to college and university financial literacy programs within the state. The UConn Extension Financial Education Program offers many opportunities and resources for youth. Housatonic Community College (HCC) also has many financial literacy education resources, including an educational video series created by Patriot Bank.
The state Department of Banking also has a webpage of financial education programs, as does the State Library, which includes a link to the FDIC’s Teacher Online Resource Center. In addition, several nonprofits in the state help with financial education. Connecticut Money School helps provide financial literacy for young people aged 16-24 and hosts free workshops available to the public.
The Connecticut Education Agence (CEA) has developed financial literacy standards, meaning SB 1165 would not catch educators unaware. However, the standards are not embedded in required courses, meaning that high schoolers are not necessarily exposed to them. Fortunately, plenty of resources exist – available to educators for free – to help create a standalone PFL course curriculum and ensure that SB 1165 is a smooth success!