Teachers Encourage Financial-Literacy Instruction

By Stephen Sawchuk — September 22, 2008 1 min read

Teachers overwhelmingly think that high school students should be taught rudimentary aspects of personal finance, according to a new survey by Americans Well-Informed on Automotive Retailing Economics, a group that promotes consumer education on car financing.

Such aspects would including basic savings and retirement investing (94 percent), financing a car purchase (92 percent), financing a home purchase (91 percent), maintaining a household budget (98 percent), managing a credit card (98 percent), managing a bank account (99 percent), acquiring medical insurance (97 percent), and acquiring a student loan (97 percent).

Additionally, 72 percent of teachers said that students old enough to purchase a car were unprepared to make decisions about how to go about that process. That does seem significant, given that a car is probably most young adults’ first big purchase.

The survey reflects interviews with 291 teachers and has a margin of error of plus or minus 5.7 percentage points.

My questions, on reading this, deal with the realm of the practical. Who should be responsible for teaching these items, and in which courses they should be taught?

I checked with the Education Commission of the States on what existing state policies are. Four states require high school students to undergo some financial-literacy instruction for graduation, either as part of another course or as a stand-alone unit (Oregon, Utah, Missouri for the class of 2010 and beyond, and South Dakota for the class of 2010 and beyond). Among the other states, there’s a lot of activity in this area, including grants and task forces that are examining the issue.

I’d be interested in hearing from some of our math and economics teachers out there about how they integrate personal-finance topics into their courses.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.

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