Curriculum

Subprime Financial Education?

July 03, 2008 1 min read
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With the collapse of the subprime-mortgage market—and the crisis it has created for the economy—there have been calls for schools to take on yet another task: financial literacy. Many are, apparently, if you consider that more 20,000 high school students in 20 states took the Financial Literacy Certification Test this year, according to WISE, or Working in Support of Education, a nonprofit that promotes financial and business education.

About three-fourths of the students who’ve taken the test since it was introduced in 2003 have passed, a statistic that may help improve the bottom line:

“A national survey of 12th graders found that over 68% failed to understand the basics of personal finance,” according to the Financial Literacy Coalition in New York. “The largest group filing personal bankruptcy is young people ages 20 to 25.”

After reading this series in The Washington Post about the housing bubble, it seems that many of the people who received loans that were well beyond their means either weren’t equipped to understand the commitment they were making or were completely in denial of their own fiscal reality. Too many put undue faith in their loan officers, who too often gave their clients an overly optimistic view of their debt thresholds.

A bunch of groups are now trying to build the foundations of financial literacy early, as I described in this story from a few months back.

Are schools finding time for these kinds of courses, lessons? Anyone know if states are requiring financial education? Should they in light of the current economic picture?

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.

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