Crossposted from councilforeconed.org . This opinion editorial originally ran on April 22, 2015 online.
As we observe National Financial Literacy Month, let us all continue our efforts to ensure children and youth develop the skills and habits that will help them to make better financial decisions as they become adults. There is not a single good reason – none – that should prevent any American from gaining the knowledge and skills needed to build a healthy financial future.
With a growing number of committed public, private, and nonprofit organizations working to advance K-12 financial education, no one needs to go it alone. Just recently, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) developed a resource guide to support leaders interested in advancing K-12 financial education by connecting them to ongoing conversations and providing access to information, tools, and resources. The guide includes a framework, case studies and strategies on how best to lay the groundwork, build the initiative, and extend the impact of K-12 financial education. The resource guide is called “Advancing K-12 Financial Education: A Guide for Policymakers” and is available for download at: http://www.consumerfinance.gov/reports/advancing-k-12-financial-education-a-guide-for-policymakers/.
When I served as the Franklin County Treasurer in Ohio a decade ago, we formed a local committee on personal financial education to help further the vision of a society where everyone could strengthen their financial skills. We gathered information about school programs for young people and community programs for adults, and we matched people up with those available resources. With the support of a broad coalition we created an impetus for what is now an Ohio state law that requires personal financial education for all high school students through the integration of economics and financial literacy within social studies classes or another class. Ohio is one of 17 states to require that high school students take a personal finance course in order to graduate.
Achieving meaningful and lasting change will require bold and innovative approaches. The CFPB resource guide is a bridge to connect leaders with tools, information, and insights to help them enhance K-12 financial education efforts. As policymakers continue to explore options to incorporate financial education throughout the K-12 experience, I hope that everyone who is interested in financial education for our nation’s children will use this guide and share it with others.
Benjamin Franklin once said, “An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.” This may be most true in the case of financial education. Starting early with age-appropriate and relevant financial education and consistently reinforcing those lessons throughout the K-12 school experience can help children and youth develop positive habits and skills that can make a lifetime of difference in their financial well-being.