WHY TEACH PERSONAL FINANCE IN SCHOOLS

Financial problems have reached epidemic proportions. People across the country and in your community are suffering from long-term financial problems. Consider the following statistics:

78% of workers live paycheck-to-paycheck61% would have trouble accessing $1,000 for an emergency$38,000 Americans average in personal debt (excluding home mortgages)$280 Billion Cost of Financial illiteracy to Americans each year

These challenges have far-reaching implications. Money affects much more than just people’s bank accounts – it permeates most areas of their lives. It has impact on central areas of our happiness and well-being: relationships, stress, health, productivity at work, lifestyle, lifespan, and community. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11]

A Principal Factor Contributing to this Problem:
Most People Never Received High-quality Personal Finance Education

Most children are not taught about money, either at home or at school. Our youth graduate from the public school system lacking the financial knowledge they need to support even their basic human needs.

Only five U.S. states require a one-semester stand-alone personal finance class. Although these efforts are commendable, a one-semester course is far less than what is required to make a meaningful difference. Another 12 states claim they have personal finance classes; however, all are under one semester, they are not stand-alone classes, and most have no testing requirements. The remaining states completely fail our students in terms of helping them gain personal finance skills. [12, 13, 14]

Teach Personal Finance
Education
in Public Schools

Sign the petition now to encourage policymakers to mandate and fund comprehensive personal finance courses in public schools. These courses should be stand-alone courses led by trained instructors and require standardized testing. Training should start in elementary school and gradually increase in cognitive rigor throughout the high school years to make a meaningful difference.

Sign the Petition

Click here to receive quarterly updates on the campaign and invitations to participate in ongoing advocacy.

The Purpose of Public Education

Historically, public education was conceived as a method to educate children in order to prepare them to become productive members of society. David B. Tyack, influential education historian, concluded that the historic purpose of schooling focused on social and economic needs.  Kathleen de Marrais, author The Way Schools Work, points to schools serving intellectual, political, social, and economic purposes.

The current subjects taught in public schools do not align with the core purposes of education. The public school system and policymakers alike are failing our children by not preparing them to meet their economic needs and undertake the community responsibilities that help produce self-sufficient adults. [15, 16, 17]

People Want Personal Finance Taught

Americans believe that personal finance should be taught in schools. Consider the following proportions of responses by U.S. participants in recent surveys:

“Do you think high school students should take personal finance courses in high school?”

81.2%
0
Respondents

Among 1,211 respondents across the U.S., 81.2% said “Yes.” [18] 

“What high school-level course would benefit your life the most?”

49.97%

Money Management

18.25%

Mathematics

14.43%

Social Studies

17.35%

Science

0
Respondents

Among 5,123 respondents across the U.S., with every state represented, 49.97% selected “Money Management (Personal Finance)”; 18.25% selected “Mathematics (Algebra, Geometry)”; 14.43% selected “Social Studies (History, Government)”; and 17.35% selected “Science (Biology, Chemistry).” [18] 

Don’t Just Teach Personal Finance, Teach it Right

A few students do receive financial education in public schools. But most such programs are presented at a low level of cognitive rigor that won’t make a substantial difference in students’ financial lives. The available programs focus on low-level learning (recall and reproduction), require no testing, fail to address the behavioral aspects of money, and do little to prepare young people for early financial decisions and self-sufficiency in the real world.

Another troubling fact is that no states require teachers to be trained to deliver financial education – so many educators are teaching a subject they are neither qualified nor confident to teach. Given that teachers are the single most important factor in students’ learning, lacking competency to teach personal finance produces poor results. [19, 20]

Goal of this Petition

The objective of this petition is to influence policymakers to legislate that all students must take comprehensive personal finance programming. The results of this petition will give champions of financial education in their communities leverage to promote mandated financial literacy programs in public schools.

Through this effort, we will also reach out to policymakers based on the number of signatures we receive:

0
Signatures

Federal & State Education Boards

0
Signatures

All Members of Congress, Federal & State Education Boards

0
Signatures

All Members of Congress, Federal & State Education Boards, County School Districts, Select City School Districts

0
Signatures

We will mobilize a campaign to get 100,000 signatures within a 30-day window – the number required by the White House Petition website to get a formal response.

Sign the Petition:
Teach Personal Finance Education in Public Schools

Sign the petition now to encourage policymakers to mandate and fund comprehensive personal finance courses in public schools. These courses should be stand-alone courses led by trained instructors and require standardized testing. Training should start in elementary school and increase in cognitive rigor throughout the high school years to make a meaningful difference.

Click here to receive quarterly updates on the campaign and invitations to participate in ongoing advocacy.

1. CareerBuilder.com (2017). Living paycheck to paycheck is a way of life for majority of U.S. workers, according to new CareerBuilder survey. Press release. Available at: http://press.careerbuilder.com/2017-08-24-Living-Paycheck-to-Paycheck-is-a-Way-of-Life-for-Majority-of-U-S-Workers-According-to-New-CareerBuilder-Survey

2. Vasel, K. (2018). Most Americans can’t cover a $1,000 emergency. CNN Money. Available at: https://money.cnn.com/2018/01/18/pf/lack-of-savings-cover-unexpected-expense/index.html

3. Northwestern Mutual (2018). Planning & Progress Study  Available at: https://news.northwesternmutual.com/planning-and-progress-2018

4. Swisher, K.Y. III (2018). 3 costs of financial illiteracy. CUInsight. Available at: https://www.cuinsight.com/3-costs-financial-illiteracy.html

5. National Financial Educators Council (2019). Significant personal issues. Available at: https://www.financialeducatorscouncil.org/significant-personal-impact-of-financial-problems/

6. Emery, L.R. (2017). How financial stress can affect your relationship. Bustle. Available at: https://www.bustle.com/p/how-financial-stress-can-affect-your-relationship-32703

7. Bethune, S. (2015). Money stress weighs on Americans’ health. Monitor on Psychology, American Psychological Association, 46:4, 38. Available at: https://www.apa.org/monitor/2015/04/money-stress

8. Sapolsky, R. (2005). Sick of poverty. Scientific American, 293:6, 92-9. Available at: https://www.georgiastandards.org/resources/Lexile_in_Action_CTAE/HS-IHS-6_1260_Sick-of-Poverty.pdf

9. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (2014). Financial wellness at work: A review of promising practices and policies. Washington, DC: CFPB. Available at: https://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201408_cfpb_report_financial-wellness-at-work.pdf

10. Glenza, J. (2017). Rich Americans live up to 15 years longer than poor peers, studies find. The Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/apr/06/us-healthcare-wealth-income-inequality-lifespan

11. National Financial Educators Council (2019). Spills over into communities. Available at: https://www.financialeducatorscouncil.org/personal-finance-impact-on-community/

12. Leins, C. (2018). These states give students the best financial education. US News & World Report. Available at: https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/slideshows/these-states-give-students-the-best-personal-finance-education?slide=11

13. Council for Economic Education (2018). 2018 survey of the states reveals slow to no growth in K-12 personal finance and economic education. Available at: https://www.councilforeconed.org/2018/02/08/2018-survey-states-reveals-slow-no-growth-k-12-personal-finance-economic-education/

14. Nova, A. (2018). Financial education stalls, threatening kids’ future economic health. CNBC Personal Finance. Available at: https://www.cnbc.com/2018/02/08/financial-education-stalls-threatening-kids-future-economic-health.html

15. Knudsen, K.K. What is the purpose of public education? Study.com, Ohio Assessments for Educators. Available at: https://study.com/academy/lesson/what-is-the-purpose-of-public-education.html

16.Tyack, D.B. (1988). Ways of seeing: An essay on the history of compulsory schooling. In R.M. Jaeger (Ed.), Complementary methods for research in education, pp. 24-59. Washington, DC: American Educational Research Association.

17. de Marrais, K.B., & LeCompte, M.D. (1995). The way schools work: A sociological analysis of education (2nd Ed.). White Plains, NY: Longman Publishers.

18. National Financial Educators Council (2019). Research-based financial education principles. Available at: https://www.financialeducatorscouncil.org/Research-based-financial-education-principles/

19. Pelletier, J. (2019). Not enough teachers know the basics of financial education. MarketWatch. Available at: https://www.marketwatch.com/story/not-enough-teachers-know-the-basics-of-financial-education-2019-04-18

20.McCaffrey, D.F., Lockwood, J.R., Koretz, D.M., & Hamilton, L.S. (2003). Evaluating value-added models for teacher accountability. New York: Rand Corporation.