Barely a month following the Missouri State Board of Education approved a regulatory review of personal finance learning standards across state schools, local education officials now hope that the overhaul will assist in preparing students for life with a more thorough understanding of the quickly evolving financial world.
It is a focus requested by State Treasurer Clint Zweifel who pushed more oversight after the state set new personal finance standards in 2006.
Currently, high school students are required to the single, half-credit finance course which covers topics like income and money management, responsible spending and budgeting, credit, saving, and investing. For example, the course improves investment concepts by having students analyze factors that affect rate of return on real life investments.
Zweifel comments, “It’s a changing consumer landscape, and there are a lot of new ideas about how to teach people about money.” He also goes on to say that it is true students can learn many good lessons from balancing a checkbook, but many students (and adults) do not use checks anymore.
He goes on to say, “It might make more sense for that teacher to focus more time on what student loan options look like and responsible use of a credit card,” adding, “When we talk about saving money for college, the discussion slips quickly to what are my dreams. We’re trying to empower people to have flexibility to achieve their hopes and dreams.”
And, of course, we all know this is an important thing to teach, but this should put this into perspective: According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, no more than 52 percent of Americans over the age of 54 (in 2015 ) had nothing saved for retirement.
Furthermore, Zweifel notes that saving for retirement should be a definite part of personal finance education. However, he also comments that the curriculum should also be relevant to students today rather than what they might (hopefully) deal with decades into the future.
“How you manage your money becomes a habit,” he advises. “Being careful, being thrifty, being an educated consumer, those sorts of tools help you save for retirement, too. But you clearly have to focus on things that affect young people immediately.”
In addition, Columbia Board of Education’s Paul Cushing supports the effort to revamp the current learning standards, reminding that getting financing from a bank, for credit or a car loan, etc, is an important part of adulthood; an education that many do not receive.