Creating a new required curriculum for public high schools can be difficult, with states scrambling to find new resources (textbooks, software, worksheets, videos) and create additional certification requirements for teachers. Fortunately, Personal Financial Literacy is a course with tons of high-quality free educational material for any school to adopt. Such positivity can be seen in Idaho, where a bill to require a one-semester Personal Financial LIteracy has unanimously passed the state House of Representatives’ education committee. HB 92, proposed by state representative James Petzke, a Republican from Meridian, has likely increased support for the bill by explaining that it can be paired with an existing one-semester Economics class and use existing free curriculum material for Personal Financial Literacy.
Adding a Complementary Course Like Personal Finance Should be Smooth Task
Understandably, school districts often push back on state requirements to add mandatory classes for graduation. Adding new classes can cause scheduling and staffing difficulties, especially as expectations for college readiness have increased over the past several decades and required students to take more math and science credits. New courses can be difficult to staff if teachers have to possess very specific certifications. Fortunately, a handful of states allow emergency certification where individuals with bachelor’s degrees can begin teaching and work toward traditional certification. Typically, teachers hired under emergency certification or alternative certification programs must complete their traditional certification within a few years (or even one year).
Personal Financial Literacy in Idaho, however, would be much easier to implement. By “blocking” it with a one-semester Economics class, the two classes together would fill up a year. This makes scheduling easy for high school seniors – they take Econ in the fall and PFL (Personal Financial Literacy) in the spring or vice versa. In many states, where Government for seniors is currently blocked with Economics, Government could be paired instead with a new Civics class that is being proposed as a state graduation requirement as well. Blocking Econ and PLF makes more sense than blocking Econ and Gov because Econ and PFL are usually more closely aligned in terms of content. In Idaho, Petzke asserts that Economics teachers can teach PFL without having to earn an additional certification.
Idaho Bill Enjoys Support From Top Education Leaders
One sign that Petzke’s bill should have a relatively smooth path through the state legislature is that it already has strong support from Idaho education leaders, including Superintendent of Public Instruction Debbie Critchfield and Dale Layne of the Idaho Association of School Administrators. Critchfield testified that Idaho does not have a separate certification to teach Personal Financial Literacy, which would allow current teachers to teach the course.
In other states, this would also be the case. For example, in Texas, a social studies composite certification allows holders to teach all subjects in high school social studies, including Economics, Government, and Personal Financial Literacy. In states still working toward creating a formal required PFL class, like Colorado, teachers may also begin teaching the subject with current experience in high school social studies and/or Economics. Hopefully, states requiring a financial literacy course for graduation will make it easy to implement by not requiring an entirely new and separate teacher certification, but rather include it in a composite certification.