April was Financial Literacy Month, but unfortunately there was little to celebrate. Across the country, many children are not learning basic financial literacy skills. A financial literacy survey by Jump$tart, a nonprofit coalition that promotes financial education, showed that many students are lacking when it comes to this subject.
Only four states mandate a semester-long personal finance course to graduate high school. Even worse, 26 states do not currently require financial literacy to be taught within any course to graduate high school, let alone as a semester course. For the most part, personal finance is only taught if teachers take a personal initiative to weave financial literacy skills into their content area lessons.
Teachers report not feeling comfortable teaching financial literacy skills. According to a national study by the National Endowment for Financial Education, or NEFE, 64 percent of teachers do not feel qualified teaching state financial literacy standards. Nearly 90 percent of the same teachers feel students should either have to pass a financial literacy test or pass a semester course to graduate high school. Our teachers want to do the best they can for their students, and they deserve professional development funding and support.
I recently created an online binder of personal finance resources for K-12 educators available here: http://www.livebinders.com/play/play_or_edit?id=384905. I set out to provide teachers from a wide range of backgrounds, subject areas and grade levels with the tools necessary to teach personal finance. The binder includes supporting resources, information from experts, games and simulations.
Until legislators mandate personal finance as a semester-long graduation requirement and fund the legislation appropriately, our teachers will continue to rely on collaboration and robust outreach programs for support. I will hold another #finedchat on Twitter in June. Please visit my blog to vote on a topic if you are interested in participating: http://www.finedchat.blogspot.com/.
Brian Page (@FinEdChat) is the 2011 Ohio Department of Education and Milken Family Foundation National Educator recipient. He also serves as the outreach director with Cincinnati United S.C. As a financial education content specialist, he has created K-12 curriculum and content at the university level, for the Ohio Department of Education, and advised various organizations across the country.