Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The collapse of common sense

There are a handful of researchers who do not believe financial education should be offered in our schools. I am not going to dignify their research by sharing it, not because I am being obstinate, but because each financial education antagonist has one thing in common - - they do not understand K-12 education. So please pardon my indignant post, but I am sensitive to policymakers suggesting education policy who do not understand education.

The premise of the argument commonly leads with a false narrative, claiming that financial education in our country is widespread. Most commonly, research states that "44 U.S. states included 'personal finance' in their standard high school curriculum, and 34 states required that these standards be implemented." They use data from each of these 44 states for their research.

So what does this really mean?

In only 13 of the 44 states is Personal Finance required to be taken, and even more alarming is of these 13 states only 4 states require it be taken as a stand alone semester long class for graduation. Further, most states do not even require course specific teacher training. So it is analogous to...

Assigning Social Studies teachers to teach Science without any training in Science.

Having Social Studies teachers integrate Science into Social Studies.

Then reporting through research that Science classes are a waste of time because students aren't learning Science effectively.

That point aside, if financial education was being tried, as policymakers believe it should be, and still failing, does that mean we should stop trying?

Just over half the voting age population exercises their right to vote. However, nobody is suggesting we should eliminate Civics from our curriculum. A large percentage of the population is overweight, yet nobody is suggesting we should eliminate health classes from our curriculum. Financial education is a course designed to help students better understand how they can better themselves financially through their own free will. Some students choose not to make wise financial choices, but that shouldn't mean we should stop empowering them with the knowledge to make a wise choice.

There is a great deal of research domestically, and internationally, that crystalizes the case for financial education. I will save sharing it for another time. For right now, I feel compelled to elaborate on questioning the premise of the adversarial position. I fear their position could lead to the slowing of a much needed effort to grow financial education in our schools, all based on research that collapses when you question it with common sense.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, I am a teacher-in-training at the University of Michigan, and I couldn't agree more with you about how important it is to offer financial education to students before they get to college. I did not take a financial class in high school or in college, but before my wife and I got married, we attended a series of lessons taught by Dave Ramsey about financial freedom, and I think that being able to learn about how to take care of ourselves financially has been an important part of our marriage. Whenever we hear other people say that one of the biggest issues couples fight about is money, we almost need to laugh to ourselves because talking about our finances actually brings us closer together. It's not because we are so wealthy that we don't need to worry about making bad decisions with our money but rather because we are able to manage the money we do have effectively. Reading through your post, this line stuck with me the most:

    "Some students choose not to make wise financial choices, but that shouldn't mean we should stop empowering them with the knowledge to make a wise choice."

    I think that this is why my wife and I never have disagreements over money - we have learned about finances, and we feel empowered knowing that we can make wise choices with our money. My field is science, but I really would enjoy teaching a class on financial education, too. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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