Teaching personal financial literacy in schools an uphill battle

financial literacy begins in the classroom

Most states are behind the times when it comes to promoting personal financial education in schools. Image: CC kevinmarsh/Flickr

Some people believe that a national financial crisis begins at home. Generations of Americans were raised to be financially illiterate and turned loose upon the world. As the country struggles to emerge from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, a movement is afoot to make financial literacy education part of growing up.

Personal finance and financial reform

Legislators drafting the financial reform bill that became law in 2010 believed that financial literacy education can be a powerful compliment to financial regulation. The financial reform law includes the establishment of an Office of Financial Literacy. Through online tools and educational programs, The Office of Financial Literacy will supposedly try to make it easier for teachers to educate students about personal finance and for consumers to educate themselves about money management.

Financial literacy education is good PR

The private sector is recognizing the glaring need for financial literacy education as a PR opportunity. For example, Genworth Financial announced a program this week to help personal finance education in more than 300 high schools across Virginia called “My Money, My Future.” Earlier this year Visa, Inc. introduced “Financial Football,” a free online game that teaches kids about money using personal financial decisions to influence the outcome of football action. American Express introduced a website this year called “Currency” that offers financial knowledge for young people about paying off student loans, renting an apartment, buying a house and surviving on unemployment.

Not tested, not taught

When it comes to financial literacy education in schools, teachers have their work cut out for them, according to Dan Kadlec at MoneyWatch. Kadlec attended a recent Financial Literacy National Educators Conference in Washington D.C. Teachers there told Kadlec that they have to focus on topics that are included in standardized tests. Right now financial literacy and personal finance are subjects that don’t show up on the tests many state governments give students in order to evaluate teachers and schools.

Sources

MoneyWatch

Sacramento Bee

PR Newswire

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