On Tuesday, January 16, the state’s Joint Committee on Education passed State Representative Diana DiZoglio’s (D-Methuen) financial literacy bill.
A recent study conducted by the Center for Financial Literacy at Champlain College in Vermont assigned the Commonwealth of Massachusetts an ‘F’ grade for the quality of its financial literacy programs; a label Champlain College gave to just 11 states across the nation and which means that “the state has few requirements, or none at all, for personal finance education in high school.”
Under House Bill 2023, An Act relative to financial literacy programs in schools, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is directed to develop standards and objectives on personal financial literacy, for grades pre-kindergarten to 12, within the existing mathematics curriculum. The curriculum would include understanding loans, borrowing money, interest, credit card debt, and online commerce; as well as banking, housing, retirement and taxes.
“Teaching students how to manage their finances should be a priority and is no-brainer” said DiZoglio. “A decade ago, the U.S. financial crisis began which brought to light the low levels of financial literacy, not only in Massachusetts but across the nation. While they may be receiving a great education in other subject matters, students in Massachusetts are graduating high school without understanding how to manage a simple personal budget. As young adults they become enslaved to credit card companies, their car loans and their student loans because they don’t understand how interest works, and what it really takes to pay down those debts. We must take the lessons learned from the devastating impacts of our past financial crises and teach the next generation how recognize predatory lending practices, be fiscally responsible, and make sound investments.”
“It is important for young people to learn about short term and long term goals, the impact of planning, credit interest, compound investments, charitable contributions and more, so that they may be empowered in their choices and practice making prudent financial decisions,” said North Andover School Committee member Helen Pickard. “Financial literacy in our schools would ensure learners have access to information for their best interests, life-long.”
“As a mother and a school committee member, I want our children to be learning more than the core curriculum,” said Methuen School Committee member Jana DiNatale. “Students should leave high school with both knowledge and character, prepared to take personal responsibility for achieving their goals. Teaching students to become prudent managers of their financial resources will put them on the road to financial responsibility and security.”
“As a junior at North Andover High School, I’m beginning to think about college and my career but I feel in the dark when it comes to finances,” said Kaitlyn Parks. “Learning about financial literacy in school would be a huge help to myself and my classmates as we enter the real world.”
“This is such a huge step for the Massachusetts system of education,” said North Andover High School graduate Sarah Keith. “Financial literacy is a skill set that every student can benefit from, and having access to education on taxes, loans, and credit is crucial for future success. I have been fortunate enough to attend lectures and lessons throughout college on financial literacy, but not everyone has this opportunity post high school graduation. I love that Representative DiZoglio is sponsoring such an important piece of legislation.”
“Massachusetts educational standards are mostly great but severely lacking in any sort of financial literacy, so to learn about finance, I have to take online courses, visit banks and read the Financial Times,” said Austin Preparatory School student Sana Nadkarni. “I sincerely want to enter the financial sector, and don’t want to wait till I am in business school to learn about finance. This knowledge should be readily available, and has to start early. I am overjoyed that with the success of Representative DiZoglio’s bill, my eight-year old brother will learn real-life skills in the public school classroom, and contribute to a more educated generation of Massachusetts citizens overall, and of potential financiers.”