BURLINGTON, Vt. (10/22/15)--Credit unions are one of the unique ways states can create mechanisms to fund financial literacy instruction in high schools, says the 2015 National Report Card from Champaign College’s Center for Financial Literacy on states’ efforts to improve financial literacy in high schools.
It mentions that New Jersey state law, for example, requires credit unions who take public entities deposits to provide financial literacy instruction.
Although the center’s report card grades efforts at the state-level on requiring financial literacy education in schools and whether they offer semester-long instruction, the report recognized that many states with failing grades at the state-level have pockets of local school districts that offer financial literacy instruction. For example, many partner with local credit unions to provide course curriculum in personal finance or instruction in shorter venues such as Reality Fairs.
Wisconsin is one of 12 states that received an F grade because the state has no requirement for literacy training before graduation. However, the report pointed out the state has formed an Office of Financial Literacy and a Governor’s Council on Financial Literacy, which provides grants and awards to individuals with financial literacy education activities, and offers other initiatives such as the National Institute on Financial and Economic Literacy. Credit unions participate in many of those efforts.
These local initiatives are not considered, however, in the Burlington, Vt.-based college’s report card.
The report concludes there isn’t enough financial literacy instruction in most states and that teachers must be well-trained to teach courses in financial literacy. It builds a case for a national standard in all states for requiring instruction in financial literacy before students graduate high school.
How did individual states do on their report cards?
Many credit unions advocate providing financial education as early as possible to students so they learn good financial habits early. However, the report card suggests that high school students should not take personal finance instruction before grades 11 or 12 because the knowledge may fade over time. The report said personal finance concepts are most relevant just before students start living on their own.