Now, they're finally starting to teach kids to keep their money.
There have been states that have been teaching personal finance for a while now. According to a National Council on Economic Education survey conducted in 2007, 28 states were teaching personal finance on some level in schools, but only seven states required students to take a personal finance course as a high school graduation requirement (in 1998, only one state required that).
But there seems little doubt about it. Some sort of movement, even if an unorganized one, is going on in some school districts around the country.
For instance, right now:
- In Altoona, Wisconsin, the class of 2010 can only graduate if they take a half-credit personal finance course.
- The state school superintendent in Indiana is discussing the idea of making their students learn financial literarcy.
- A bill is making its way through the New Jersey legislature that would require high school students to take personal finance classes. Kansas and Virginia are also debating similar bills.
- Michigan just passed a bill that allows students to fulfill part of their high school math requirements with a personal finance class.
I remember on several occasions throughout my 20s thinking, "Boy, if I had some personal finance class before I bought that bogus car insurance... or before I bought my first car, which I couldn't afford... or before I signed up for all those credit cards."
I don't know if a class would have kept me from making some dunderheaded decisions in the 1990s when I was in my 20s, but it might have. In any case, these classes can't hurt, and judging from some of the decisions that have been made in Wall Street in recent years, it seems evident that schools better start educating the masses about how to manage their money.