I am a senior at Mercer Island High School and my goal is to increase awareness about financial education through the high school.
To begin, here’s a highlight. Recently, the powerball jackpot reached a record breaking $1.6 billion. Me and my parents started talking about what we would do if we won. My dad said that he would budget and figure out how much to invest into the stock market and family, and would give away anything leftover.
My dad has a masters degree in finance and shows high levels of financial literacy, a matter that is lacking among many Americans today. In 2009, the Council for Economic Education (CEE) conducted a survey of 44 states that have grades K-12 financial education in place.
The results were striking. Only 48 percent of students passed, well below the international average of 60 percent. These results raise an important question: what do kids spend eight hours a day in school doing?
I believe the root can be traced back to the Bush presidency. The passage of the No Child Left Behind Act began to rate schools based on pass/fail rebates on different federal tests. If schools were rated as failing, they could risk losing federal funding.
Because of this high stakes pressure, many states began giving out more tests to prepare for the federal ones. This was the beginning of the testing culture. In today’s schools, the most important subjects are math, science, history and English, while little attention is put on less worrisome, but equally important life skills such as budgeting, finance and other courses that hide under the name of “CTE” or “elective.” The purpose of school should be to teach kids the skills they need to succeed in the adult world. And financial knowledge is an important skill to have.
I believe, going forward, that we should make financial education a required part of the elective courses, I believe that this is a win-win for everyone. Financial education is integrated into the curriculum, and it also puts less stress on students who don’t know what electives to take.