Push is on to Require Finance Education in High Schools

Hoping to stem the future tide of overwhelming credit card debt, personal bankruptcies and foreclosures, seven states are now requiring high school students take a personal finance class, the Associated Press reported.

A survey by the National Council on Economic Education found that the seven states require the basic finance course as a prerequisite for graduation, which is up from four states in 2002. The seven states are Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, New York and Utah.

The survey found that 38 states now include the notions of saving, investing, risk management and other finance topics in standards or guidelines, which is up from 31 states two years ago, the AP reported. However, the survey discovered that most states don't enforce the standard, nor do they require full courses on the subjects.

"There is more good economic and financial education being offered in schools than ever," said Robert Duvall, president of the national council, which released its findings during an economic literacy summit. "But as a subject area, it continues to be marginalized as an add-on in an already crowded curriculum. We need to keep pushing to make it part of the core."

Without this foundation of finance education offered early, young adults often find themselves with more than just a checkbook that won't balance. Lack of understanding can lead to bankruptcies, home foreclosures and financial stresses that divide families, experts say.

Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan has taken note of the issue, urging schools to graduate financially literate children who are not overcome by poor financial decisions later in life, the AP reported.

The Financial Literacy and Education Commission, which represents 20 federal agencies and commissions, is working on ways to help people navigate complex money decisions.

In a national survey last year, only 52 percent of high school seniors answered correctly questions about personal finance and economics. The students struggled, for example, with questions on income tax, stocks and bonds, credit card liability and retirement plans, the AP reported.


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